Women who have lost spouses to COVID speak out against conspiracy theories

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I am extremely fortunate to be able to say I do not know anyone personally who has passed away from COVID. I know a few who have gotten it and one person who is still in the hospital on a ventilator, but no one has died. I truly am grateful. I will also, I suspect, be in the minority once we are finally out of the woods from this terrible pandemic. As more people lose loved ones, support groups are sprouting up. Survivors are facing unique and heartbreaking issues. They cannot escape the news about the virus or images of people going maskless. In addition, they constantly have to see the person they hold responsible for their partners’ death: The President of the United States

Shortly after 37-year-old Lew Berry died from COVID-19 in April in northern Indiana, his wife, Brianna Berry, 31, created a Facebook group, which she called “COVID-19 Widows and Widowers Support Group.” It now has 24 mostly women members — a relatively small number, but it has slowly grown over the past six months as more Americans die and more of their surviving partners seek support. Many members found the group organically, just searching on Facebook; others Berry found in separate support groups or through obituaries in the news.

The group has served as a safe haven for these people, said 28-year-old Tulsi Patel-Workoff of Huntington, New York, whose 33-year-old husband, Luke, died from the coronavirus in early April.

“We call each other when we’re having a difficult time,” said Weehawken, New Jersey–based group member Natasha Gibbons-Hodkinson, 37, whose husband Gregory died in April, at age 47. “It’s been helpful to speak to others that feel what we’re experiencing.”

The group doesn’t talk politics too much, but they do regularly discuss how painful it’s been seeing individuals flouting social distancing guidelines and the government failing to enact measures that could have saved thousands of lives. Even worse has been dealing with outright COVID-19 conspiracy theorists, some of whom sent Berry cruel messages after her husband’s obituary appeared in the news.

“I’ve had multiple people tell me COVID is not real, blah blah blah,” Berry said. “One of the widows I talked to, she’s been hearing, ‘It’s all a big conspiracy theory and the hospitals are giving lethal injections.’ It’s crazy stuff, like, who says that to people?”

The grief of people whose partners died from the coronavirus is not made easier by the constant avalanche of news about the pandemic. This week, in particular, has been overwhelming for Berry, who started the Facebook group, given the flood of headlines about the outbreak at the White House. “It was kind of triggering, just all that in the news,” she said.

Berry watched in horror as the president took a joyride in an SUV with Secret Service agents to wave to fans outside his hospital. She knew firsthand how deadly the virus was, but the president seemed almost nonchalant about risking the exposure of others.

Still, she hopes that, unlike her husband, Trump’s health improves. “You know, some people are saying he deserves to die from it, and while I don’t like him and don’t agree with him… I still wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy,” she said.

[From Buzzfeed News]

Okay – one nice thing I will say about Facebook, it is good for people to find each other and groups in this way. I didn’t cover those passages, but the article also discusses those who have lost other loved ones – family, friends, etc. COVID has placed its icy fingers on everyone to some extent. But like Brianna Berry said, so much of the devastation in this country was avoidable. And yet, there are still those fighting over a face mask simply to be obstinate. It should not have to hit home for it to be real. I’d tell people to look at the numbers but clearly, there are loon balls out there who don’t think it is real. They’re choosing to believe in conspiracy theories and spreading that poison to those it hurts the most. Imagine expending the energy to write to a widow to tell her her husband did not die from a mismanaged pandemic because the virus does not exist, instead he was injected with a lethal concoction in the hospital. What kind of ice water runs through their veins?

I really feel for these poor women. I have a friend who is a 9/11 Widow. She expressed a similar sentiment to the news and the constant reminders going forward. On the one hand, there is a certain reverence for those who lost loved ones in a national tragedy. But on the other hand, they are never allowed to grieve in their own way, it follows them everywhere. And this is still going on for these widows. #45 is taking victory laps while still infected, implying that anyone dying from COVID chose to do so. People don’t have room to greive because they are still losing every day this virus has control of us. It’s tragic and I am so sorry for any of you going through it.



Photo credit: Polina Zimmerman, Brett Sayles and Viajero from Pexels

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15 Responses to “Women who have lost spouses to COVID speak out against conspiracy theories”

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  1. Roserose says:

    Jesmyn Ward lost her husband to Covid at the very beginning of the pandemic and wrote a heartbreaking essay about her experience in Vanity Fair.


    It’s such a deeply affecting piece of writing, I still think about it pretty much every day since it was published. I wish covid deniers would read it and feel what I felt when I read it the first time, but the truth is, they probably won’t. This is one of the shocking things I’ve realised about people since all this started: there are just people who can’t be empathic about something they haven’t experienced yet. I was happier not knowing that.

  2. Eleonor says:

    I feel for these women, like I feel for everyone has lost somebody, at the same time I can’t anymore with these complots antimask idiots. They speak from priviledge: the health priviledge, because if you have some pre-existing condition, or someone you love has you respect alla the guidelines to protect them.
    It’s shocking how event being an idiot about this is a priviledge.

  3. manda says:

    I am thankful to say that I also do not know anyone who has died. But I know people who know people who have died

  4. Chartreuse says:

    I’m not in the US but I know people who got it in the UK and still seriously affected months later, possibly for life. Friends in the US had friends and family die. Italian and Spanish friends had friends and family die.

  5. Darla says:

    I think Trump is a traumatizing person for anyone who has suffered through just about anything. I believe he traumatized nearly every woman who has been a victim of sexual assault when he was first so-called “elected”. He traumatizes DV victims daily with his bullying, thugish behavior. Now he is traumatizing loved ones of those dead from Covid. Daily. He’s doing it daily by claiming he’s a Superman like figure who “beat” Covid because only weak people die from it, and really nobody is dying from it anymore anyway, on the same day many someones are burying their dead.

    I am sickened to my core that anyone supports this monster. He’s a monster. It’s not a political debate. It has nothing to do with politics.

    He’s a monster.

    • BnLurkN4eva says:

      Yes, he’s a monster.

    • Merricat says:


    • SusieQ says:

      @Darla, I completely agree. I know so many people, myself included, have felt traumatized every day of this presidency. And now my boyfriend, Mom, and I are all Covid survivors (contracted at work). I’m traumatized from having it, and I almost broke down in tears yesterday in Walmart because at least half the people in there weren’t wearing masks. I was so frustrated.

  6. FancyPants says:

    I wonder if somebody put together a compilation of last messages from COVID patients who could only communicate with loved ones via phone or video (similar to the last messages from the people in the towers) if it might sink into more people that this is REAL. I didn’t personally know anybody who was killed or injured on 9-11 and I still don’t to this day, but I can’t even get through two of those messages in a row without breaking down in tears. The lives and dreams and potentials lost… and to multiply that by roughly 65x for COVID-19 so far… and people have the audacity to deny this REALITY? SMH.

  7. Marigold says:

    Trump and his supporters enrage me to such a degree that it makes me feel as if I’m living in an alternate world. Who are those people?

  8. Laura says:

    I didn’t lose someone personally but I work in healthcare in a hospital fortunately I’m not a pulmonary critical care specialist my patients are very sick for other reasons regardless it has been a heart breaking time where loved ones can’t see their family members in the hospital and it’s extra stressful trying to take care of them and keep lines of communication open. I have had covid positive patients and it’s scary for them being alone with out family support and me worrying if I’ll catch it or bring it home and the PPE shortages. My coworker lost her father to covid it was devastating she had to say good by to him from our hospitalAs he passed in another via an iPad. I wouldn’t wish this entire experience on anyone and SHAME on our leaders and fellow citizens for downplaying this or saying it’s a conspiracy and not having a unified national effort behind working together to keep this under control. Those of us in health care are going to have lasting emotional scars from this on top of working in a field that already causes so much stress. I just don’t even know what to say anymore.

  9. Claire says:

    My best friend is dealing with the effects of long COVID and she’s having life-threatening heart symptoms regularly as a consequence of the virus. We used to be able to talk about anything, every day, since I was 11 and she was 13 we’ve been best friends. Now I send her soothing pictures of nature daily to keep her calm and out of the ER. The death toll is devastating, and so many others have been affected as well. My friend is fierce, bright, funny, and blunt, and she feels like she needs to cocoon herself just to survive.

    My heart breaks for the people who’ve lost loved ones to this. As much as I am sad about the changes in my friend’s quality of life and the fear of death she endures daily, I’m sure any of them wish the ones they lost had what she has, which is making her suicidal. This situation is so awful and I’m so so angry at this administration that I ground my teeth so hard that one broke last week.

    Just wanted to vent here because I can’t vent to her anymore. This is so f*cked.

  10. Chloeee says:

    These conspiracies are seriously disrupting my relationship with my father and brother although my half sister who lives in England, has my dad’s ear and is full on into the NWO and pedophile dems so now our dad is pro Trump somehow. Going to break it to my mom I won’t be spending thanksgiving with them. So sad for those who’ve lost someone to this, makes me so angry when I hear the arrogance spew out of my dad’s mouth. Makes me wonder how we’re even related.

  11. Miss Margo says:

    I’ve heard of so many people jumping on the conspiracy theory bandwagon. Those people are watching one 15 minute YouTube video and are convinced it’s real. I get why they do. That is far easier to do then reading through medical journals/articles about epidemiology, flus/colds, etc. Perhaps the science of it is too much for some people? Or maybe those people are on the verge of a psychotic break?