'People can shop at Target' but grandchildren can't attend a funeral?: Rhode Island woman battles COVID-19 restrictions
Holly Susi. with her mother Janet Gingras. Gingras died on Sunday after signing COVID-19. All Susi wanted was to gather her family for a proper farewell, which was not allowed.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Holly Susi has embarked on a seemingly endless battle with COVID-19.
First, her mother, who was 86 years old, contracted the disease. Then her father. And then she got it - followed by her husband, brother, and wife.
When her mother, Janet Gingras, died on Sunday, Susi just wanted to gather her family together for a proper farewell. She was stunned to read that only five people could attend an outdoor funeral and wrote a letter to Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo to express her dismay.
“People can shop at Target, get their hair cut in a salon, dine indoors in restaurants, but we can't have a socially distant outdoor funeral for my mother? Your seven grandchildren cannot attend? Your older great-grandchildren can't say goodbye? How can that be? "She wrote." It's not just not fair. It doesn't respect my mother, who has already suffered so much and is causing her family another pain. "
COVID-19 has dealt one blow after another to Susi and her family in the past two months.
Janet Gingras, center, died on November 29, 2020 after contracting COVID-19. Here she is pictured with her husband Richard and her great-grandson Connor Morrison.
Her mother had a pulmonary embolism in late October. After she was released from the hospital, she caught a cold and then chills. Soon her father Richard, who is 89 years old, felt painful and feverish.
At the weekend Susi knew that both had COVID-19.
A few days later, on November 4th, Suzy called 911 and her parents were hospitalized.
Both developed pneumonia. Susi's mother initially improved - and she went to a rehabilitation center in Massachusetts because the Rhode Island centers weren't taking COVID-19 patients - but then her condition worsened and she was taken to hospital again, Susi said.
"My mother was really, really sick," said Suzy. "We had to choose to give her comfort measures and it was a heartbreaking decision."
Both parents had been very clear: no ventilators, no extraordinary measures.
"She hadn't spoken," said Suzy. "One day she opened her eyes and said, 'Thank you God for answering my prayers.'"
Gingras had prayed to see her family again.
A week later, Janet was transferred to the Hope Hospice in Providence, where Susi was by her side every day. She died on Sunday.
Susi's father hit COVID-19. But he was taken to a rehab center in Massachusetts, where he was placed in a locked dementia ward. There he began to languish in isolation and without human contact.
"Now he has hospital delirium," said Suzy. “I wouldn't wish that to my worst enemy. I haven't seen him since October. He doesn't understand why he's there. I don't know if he'll ever come back. "
Susi said she had now lost both parents in different ways.
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In the meantime, the virus touched more family members: Susi's husband, her nephew, her brother's son and daughter, and their two children.
"I'm a rule chaser," said Suzy. “I kept a contact tracing notebook starting in mid-March. I kept my bladder very small. This was the first Thanksgiving Day that only my husband and I attended. We did everything that was asked. "
"We know what COVID can do," she continued. "So I said," Let's bury us outside. "
Susi wanted to invite between 16 and 18 family members. Everyone would wear masks and stand apart. But she was told no.
Susi lives near a local restaurant in Providence and says that easily more than 18 people work there at the same time.
"I can have 150 people in ... a big church and that's 25 percent of the capacity," she said. “My family has been burdened on so many levels by COVID. To add to our grief, we cannot even do what we thought is best for our families. "
Janet Gingras and her daughter Holly Susi. Gingras died on November 29, 2020 after fighting COVID-19.
The Rhode Island Department of Health said churches, unlike outdoor burials, are structured: they're allowed to be 25% of capacity, with parishioners sitting six feet apart. The challenge with outdoor services is that this structure is often not in place, said DOH spokesman Joseph Wendelken.
"Wearing masks and social distancing is much more difficult, and the lack of a common entrance makes it harder to screen people for symptoms," he wrote. "It is for this reason that during this period of time when we have seen such high transmission rates, tighter restrictions have been put in place on grave burials and other gatherings."
Susi doesn't buy it:
"This is not how we should treat grieving families. The funeral and the waking up are for the living. We are robbing people of the opportunity to celebrate a life, to comfort one another."
Susi said gingras was a hothead. That made her go public about the situation.
“She would be proud. She would have wanted to fight that. People want the opportunity to calm loved ones in the midst of their families. "
This article originally appeared in the Providence Journal: Rhode Island Woman Fighting Mother's Funeral Under COVID Restrictions
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