For the loved ones of the more than 208,000 people lost to the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, it can be difficult to find the right words of comfort. What can you say when they saw someone they love hurting, deeply sick and had to watch it happen again and again around the country with relative inaction and rampant misinformation from the highest offices of government? But there’s a longer list of things you probably shouldn’t say if you’re trying to be compassionate or give the impression that you care for these grieving people — things President Donald Trump managed to rattle off in one of his tweets following his COVID-19 diagnosis last week.
“I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good,” he tweeted. “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”
For Amanda Kloots, whose husband Nick Cordero died in July at the age of 41 after a difficult, months-long series of complications with the virus, this missive from the president that doubled-down on his cavalier attitude toward the virus and went as far as to urge supporters to take the virus less seriously. There’s plenty of critiques of how his comments ignore the realities of healthcare in the United States: the majority of Americans will not be flown to a hospital if they experience severe symptoms (depending on hospital capacity, they may not be able to get a bed), will not be given access to tax-payer funded healthcare (despite paying only $750 in taxes) and are not given access to compassionate use of experimental treatments. But on a more human level, they are lacking in the empathy and compassion for people who have already lost so much — who do not have the option to not let the virus “dominate” their lives.
So Kloots, who lost the father of her young child to this virus, took to her instagram to respond to this statement — and to offer the kindness that these families really need right now.
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To all the over 208,000 Americans who lost loved ones to this virus – I stand by you, with you, holding your hand. Unfortunately it did dominate our lives didn’t it? It dominated Nick’s family’s lives and my family’s lives. I guess we “let it” – like it was our choice?? Unfortunately not everyone is lucky enough to spend two days in the hospital. I cried next to my husband for 95 days watching what COVID did to the person I love. It IS something to be afraid of. After you see the person you love the most die from this disease you would never say what this tweet says. There is no empathy to all the lives lost. He is bragging instead. It is sad. It is hurtful. It is disgraceful.
“To all the over 208,000 Americans who lost loved ones to this virus — I stand by you, with you, holding your hand. Unfortunately, it did dominate our lives didn’t it? It dominated Nick’s family’s lives and my family’s lives. I guess we “let it” — like it was our choice?” Kloots wrote. “Unfortunately not everyone is lucky enough to spend two days in the hospital.”
The very real human impact (the loss, the trauma, the collective grief) from the coronavirus pandemic — no doubt exacerbated by mishandling from leadership — is something we’ll have to grapple with for years to come. But on top of that grief having to insist, against the messaging of a world leader, that other Americans take simple, careful precautions to avoid the same fat? It’s horrific to make her have to relive her trauma in this particular way and to insult everything she and her family went through.
“I cried next to my husband for 95 days watching what COVID did to the person I love. It IS something to be afraid of,” Kloots adds. “After you see the person you love the most die from this disease you would never say what this tweet says. There is no empathy to all the lives lost. He is bragging instead. It is sad. It is hurtful. It is disgraceful.”
This response came shortly before Trump posted about the virus being comparable to the flu (now removed by Facebook for being inaccurate and dangerously misleading). The coronavirus’ death toll (in under a year) is significantly higher than those of the flu. Per the CDC, flu season 2019-2020 saw 22,000 deaths. With at least 208,000 deaths in the U.S. coronavirus has claimed nearly 10 times as many American lives in less than a year.
Before you go, check out the best and most affordable mental health apps — because you need to take care of your brain and mental health now more than ever: