When President Joe Biden spoke of “epidemic politics” earlier this month, it hit particularly close to home. Most of my siblings are among the 25% of Americans who were refused vaccinations, as he said, “We all paid.”
In my case, that “cost” came to cancel our brother’s memorial, which was planned for mid-September in California.
Daniel died in February of complications related to diabetes. He was just old .. I have six siblings. Without five vaccines. Four staunch Donald Trump supporters who say COVID-19 is a “lie” or “scandal”.
Earlier this summer, one of Daniel’s adult children, the parents of a small child, was planning a memorial to the fall when the Delta variety began to spread. I asked my siblings to get vaccinated so that we could all come together and respect him for ensuring everyone’s safety.
No matter what I say, they dig in and deny it. Their reactions were so cruel and unreasonable, I finally gave up trying to explain them. Kovid is moving forward.
Since then, several members of the family have contracted Kovid-1 contract and become quite ill. As a result, Daniel’s memorial was canceled. Rejecting the vaccine and ignoring science, some of my siblings have denied our dead brother’s children and our entire family, including grandchildren, the opportunity to say goodbye to him properly. Respecting Daniel’s life and sharing memories with each other is an important occasion that we will not have.
“Even if your family doesn’t reunite, you’re still stuck,” Dr. Alan Wolfelt told me in a telephone interview. “When there is no ceremony, mourning never starts properly. This can create a terrifying, never ending limbo for the family, especially for the early mourners. Wolfelt is the founder of the Center for Loss and Life Transition in Colorado, a faculty member of the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and the author of more than 50 books on grief and loss.
Dr. Wolfelt explains that funerals have been practiced for thousands of years by a culture and religion. He said vary dates vary, but the purpose and positive results are universal.
Some of my lasting memories are from family funerals. In our large extended Italian Catholic family, funerals were common – and instructive. One of the three days of my childhood was going to the funeral home where the bodies were kept. People came and went and fell on the hallway while reciting the second night beads. At the end of it all, a seemingly endless procession of cars drove from the church through the old neighborhood of Detroit to the cemetery where the dead man grew up.
This complex and traditional ritual has taught me not only the farewells of the dead, but also the importance of bringing the living together – grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, godparents, godparents ‘cousins, cousins’ friends, friends – all memories Taken. I watched the adults cry and laugh back at the house where everyone ate and drank. We kids would sit in a corner imitating adults and sip wine.
Covid-1 19 has stolen this complex and messy tradition from many of us in the last 1 month and it is especially tragic for those who have lost their loved ones to the virus. When the vaccines became widely available earlier this year, we hoped we could return to a modified, loving version of this much-needed program. However, when people are reluctant to get vaccinated, we are forced to say goodbye again.
That’s what makes it so difficult.
Daniel was a year younger than me. There were differences between us, but we were always behind each other. Twelve years ago, when the hospice nurse told us that our father was nearing the end of his life, other family members asked me to keep them informed. Daniel, on the other hand, immediately showed up to buy an airline ticket. He and I spent the last week of our father’s life together, caring for him, comforting him, and comforting our mother, who was suffering from dementia at the time. A few months later, in an emotional long-distance phone call, Daniel thanked me for sharing an experience he called a “privilege” that he will never forget. She said I was a good sister – something else I would never forget.
In late August, one of my siblings and one of their family members tested positive for Covid-1 for. They continue to fight with deadly symptoms. Most recently, another sibling announced that someone in their family had tested positive. This is the second case of their close family.
Still, my siblings remain adamant in their opposition to the vaccine. “Prayer is all we have,” one said. “It has to run its course,” said another.
Our family group writings filled with hearts, kissing faces and prayer-hand emojis are vain displays of emotion and hope that nothing will change.
When Daniel’s adult child sent a text canceling their father’s recollection, it was promised that the res would be rescheduled sometime in the coming months. Dr. Wolfelt tells me that 80% of families who have postponed a funeral are never rescheduled. And there is almost always an emotional consequence.
The epidemic last winter prevented us from reuniting when Daniel died. Epidemic politics has set us apart now.
I don’t know when, or even if, I will be able to celebrate Daniel’s life or help spread his ashes on the small farm that he nurtured so much. I just want the opportunity to remember our lives together and close something. I think I was snatched from it because of the selfishness of a few people close to me and the selfishness of many more in this country.
Note: Names and some identifying details have been changed in this section.
Ann Marie Beondo, former journalist and PR executive, is a freelance writer who has focused on social justice issues. She is currently working on a memoir about her grandmother, a baby bride, in 1918 Detroit.
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