Opinion | Helping Those Who Are Grieving Covid Deaths

To the Editor:

Re “The Bereavement Crisis Is Coming,” by Allison Gilbert (Op-Ed, April 13):

Since my mom died from Covid-19 I’ve struggled with my disembodied grief. As I read Ms. Gilbert’s article, it finally struck me that it was as if Mom were kidnapped by Covid.

In her final nine months at a nursing facility in Los Angeles, she was allowed no visitors or interaction with anyone but staff. We tried family Zooms but they were disorienting given her failing eyesight, so we had to rely on the staff members to communicate with her. When Mom tested positive for Covid before Christmas, we essentially lost contact with her.

As she declined, we were told she was being kept “as comfortable as possible.” When she died, we were told “she was not alone.” We weren’t told exactly where her body was for days, and still haven’t been able to hold a funeral or find any closure.

Covid didn’t leave a ransom note, but it certainly stole my beloved mom.

Rhonda Felicity
Bothell, Wash.

To the Editor:

The crisis of grieving following Covid-19 is very much upon us, appearing in forms less readily recognized. Millions in our country are grieving the loss of loved ones, and millions more are now impaired with the physical or psychological effects, grieving the loss of stable health. We are all grieving the more abstract losses — loss of familiar routines, of schooling and carefree childhoods, of socialization, of breathing safely in public and of embracing loved ones.

While the end of the pandemic is thankfully in sight, an investment in mental health services — just as we have done for vaccine development and economic stimulus — is essential to providing relief for a traumatized nation.

David Fox
Los Angeles
The writer, a doctor and rabbi, is director of crisis intervention, trauma and bereavement support services at Chai Lifeline.

To the Editor:

Therapists, clergy and other helping professions have been busy throughout the year helping families affected by the pandemic. Training for grief work is not new; it is an established field with many capable professionals and hospice-trained bereavement professionals throughout the country.

Establishing yet another federal office, as the Op-Ed suggests, hardly seems to me an efficient way to respond to the losses, which will vary in communities. We know that communities of color have been hard hit. Do we need a federal office to know that we must staff some of our schools with more social workers, counselors and/or teams of trained professionals to run support groups for children and teens?

Governors surely know their states and communities best; while extra resources may be helpful, it is the community that can best identify its needs.

Additionally, not every problem is a crisis. A problem that is not addressed may become a crisis. Let’s use our common sense to give states the help they need to increase support to community mental health and schools. A federal office? I think not.

Roxanne Kelber
West Roxbury, Mass.
The writer is a social worker.

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