As of Sunday, coronavirus deaths in the United States were nearing 300,000, a number comparable to the loss of the entire population of Pittsburgh or St. Louis. Reports of new deaths have more than doubled in the last month, to an average of nearly 2,400 per day, more than at any other time in the pandemic.
The deaths were announced the traditional way, in obituary notices and notices on websites and newspapers that have followed the same format for decades, listing places of birth, family members, jobs, and passions.
But in recent months, as the death toll from the coronavirus continues to rise in the US, families who have lost relatives to the disease are writing the pandemic deeper in the obituaries they submit to funeral homes and the materials they submit Share them with newspapers & # 39; obituary writers.
These include requests to wear masks, reprimanding those who believe the virus is a joke, and detailing the loneliness and physical suffering the coronavirus has inflicted on the dying.
Lida Barker, 92, a longtime Gary, Indiana resident, died on November 20 after contracting the coronavirus in the nursing home where she lived. Her death devastated her children, three sisters who met on a Zoom call in the days after her death to write the obituary.
They wrestled with the wording of a mention of the coronavirus and decided: "In your memory, please wear a mask in public and take Covid-19 seriously. It's real; it hastened her death. "
For decades, families have often refused to write an obituary about how their relative died if the cause was fear or fear, be it AIDS, an opioid overdose, or suicide. As the public became more aware of once-unknown infectious diseases, mental illness and drug addiction, the tendency to hide has slowly given way to openness.
And as funeral services have been postponed and burials often take place without public eulogies or memorable words, the obituary has become increasingly important and it is the family's turn to deliver their own unfiltered message to the community.