Family Losses: What the coronavirus took from them


Kathleen Gil

Kathleen Gil sits beside her father, Thomas Hernandez, who passed away due to Covid.

Every now and then Kathleen Gil receives notifications on her phone. The notifications are pictures of her dad taken years ago. As she looks at the date that the picture was taken she thinks, “Who would have known that he would have had x amount of years to live.”

The entire world has been struck by the pandemic. The coronavirus has taken down a multitude of victims who weren’t able to survive its impact. We know the numbers; we hear them all the time; however, we don’t know what the families of the deceased have had to go through.

Gil, a Facilities Planning Technician at Santa Ana Unified School District, has had four family members die from Covid.

“It’s horrible due to the way that they passed away,” Gil said.

Perhaps the death that hurts her the most is her father’s death. In Gil’s experience, her father Thomas Hernadez got sick when he was in Mexico back in 2020. While he was at the hospital, his condition got worse and finally, Gil received the news that her father had passed away on April 15, 2020. She wasn’t able to be there by his side or say her last goodbye.

She said, “It’s devastating, you never expect that to happen.”

In addition, “The funeral process was horrible.” Due to the circumstance, Gil’s family wasn’t allowed to see the body and when they wanted to bury it they were told that “The cemetery wasn’t allowing deceased Covid patients.” This would interfere with her father’s last wish which was to be buried alongside his mother’s grave. With no other choice, they decided to cremate the body.

When asked how she copes with the deaths, she said, “I have my moments.”

For instance, she knows that her father’s wish is to reside in Mexico and she wants to do that for him, however, she said,  “I don’t want to let him go.” She plans on at least keeping a few of his ashes to know that she has a part of him that will always be by her side.

Similarly, sophomore Jennifer Lopez has had to experience the death of her godmother’s brother-in-law. Javier Ortiz was basically family to Lopez and “He was in the hospital for weeks.” It wasn’t until Jan. 12, 2021 that he passed away.

“Well, I was really sad because Covid really did that,” was her response to how she felt when she found out about his death.

In regards to his funeral process, Lopez had heard that he was going to be buried on Feb. 5, but no further information has been heard. The delay must have also been caused because the family wishes to transport his body to Mexico. To help with this, Lopez’s family has shown support by providing money for the funeral.

What helps Lopez with her loss is “Remembering the good things about him.”

She also stated,  “He was a joyful person with everyone and gave positive vibes.”

Lopez specifically remembers seeing him on her 15th birthday where they danced together.

Finally, sophomore Joselin Corrales has had to experience many deaths from her church community to whom she considers family. Specifically, she remembered Jose.

“Every time we talked he would ask about school and was just a really nice person,” she said.

When she was told that he passed away she admitted feeling, “Sad because we couldn’t see him…he passed away by himself.”

Not only that, but even when he was six feet under she couldn’t even say a proper goodbye.

The funeral was quick, “There was no open casket, you would just walk up and then leave.” While she was there all the memories that she had with him were coming to her mind.

“We’ll miss him, but there’s nothing we can do,” Corrales said.

If she were to be there with him she would have said, “Thank… thank you for everything.”

Moments like these will never be forgotten,, and it’s such a shame that Covid has not only affected our health but has also affected the ones that we care about. It has taken a mental and emotional toll on us and has complicated the way that we handle deaths. For all the victims that Covid has taken, may they rest in peace and may the family find comfort.