Grieving loved ones are using obituaries to send powerful messages about COVID-19

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Priscilla Blossom
·5 min read
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Jeff Conn and Linda Conn, pictured on the left, died days apart from COVID-19. The couple's obituary, written by their children, asks for people to wear masks in lieu of sending flowers. The obituary of Dr. Marvin J. Farr, right, was penned by his son and made a similar plea. (Photos: Legacy.com, left; Price & Sons Funeral Home, right)
Jeff Conn and Linda Conn, pictured on the left, died days apart from COVID-19. The couple's obituary, written by their children, asks for people to wear masks in lieu of sending flowers. The obituary of Dr. Marvin J. Farr, right, was penned by his son and made a similar plea. (Photos: Legacy.com, left; Price & Sons Funeral Home, right)

An Ohio couple who was married for more than 40 years died from COVID-19 days apart during the week of Thanksgiving.

Jeff Conn, 75, and Linda Conn, 76, are survived by their two kids, Julie Brown and Adam Conn, who wrote their parents’ obituary, which calls for people to wear masks instead of sending flowers.

“In lieu of flowers the family requests that you simply wear a mask when you are out in public and practice social distancing,” the siblings wrote. “It is not a difficult thing to do. It is not an infringement on your freedom or civil liberties. It is literally the least, smallest thing you can do to help reduce the risk that vulnerable members of our community will die unnecessarily and leave their loved ones heartbroken and devastated.”

Similarly, When Dr. Marvin James Farr of Scott City, Kansas, passed away in early December, his son Courtney Farr wrote a scathing obituary, calling out the individuals who continue to oppose mask-wearing amid a worldwide pandemic. Farr shared that his father, who passed at the age of 81, spent his final moments in isolation, and that they were “harder, scarier, and lonelier than necessary.” The obituary goes on to remind readers that while the elder Farr grew up in a society where rationing supplies and sending one's own children to far off wars was commonplace, he died in a much different world — one “where many of his fellow Americans refuse to wear a piece of cloth on their face to protect one another.”

These are just the latest obituaries that pull no punches and place aim on individuals who are contributing to the rise in COVID-19. There’s also Kristin Urquiza who penned an obituary for her own father, Mark Anthony Urquiza, who lost his life to the pandemic back in late June.

“His death is due to the carelessness of the politicians who continue to jeopardize the health of brown bodies through a clear lack of leadership, refusal to acknowledge the severity of this crisis, and inability and unwillingness to give clear and decisive direction on how to minimize risk,” the obituary said.

Then, when 64-year-old respiratory therapist Isabelle Papdimitriou passed away after battling coronavirus the following month, her daughter Fiana Tulip made sure her obituary let the public know who was at fault.

“Her undeserving death is due to the carelessness of the politicians who continue to hedge their bets on the lives of healthcare workers through a lack of leadership, through a refusal to acknowledge the severity of this crisis, and through an inability and unwillingness to give clear and decisive direction on how to minimize the risks of the coronavirus,” the obituary read. “Now, every year, on July 4th, when Americans celebrate their independence and watch the fireworks in awe, her family will be reminded of how their very resistance — rooted in liberty — detrimentally clashed with Isabelle's inalienable right to life.”

A month later, Stacey Nagy (also of Texas) minced no words as well when it came to who she and her loved ones felt was to blame for the untimely death of her husband David. “Family members believe David’s death was needless,” the obituary stated. “They blame the deaths and the deaths of all the other innocent people, on Trump, Abbot, and all the other politicians who did not take this pandemic seriously.” Many, including Representative Veronica Escobar of El Paso, have criticized Governor Abbott’s COVID-19 response over the course of the year.

Like Farr, Urquiza, Tulip, and Nagy, many other bereaved individuals are following suit in making sure their loved ones did not die in vain. In fact, Urquiza has even started a movement called #MarkedByCOVID which aims to collect more of these stories of preventable COVID deaths. On the site, individuals can also find and post their own #HonestObit honoring the loss of a loved one to the pandemic. Papadimitriou’s obituary is there, along with one for Jose Antonio Reyes Dupont, a Miami-area Cuban man whose death this past September, it says, was “due to the carelessness of Governor Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump who rushed to reopen without a plan, causing cases to skyrocket in Florida. They refuse to acknowledge the severity of the crisis or give clear direction on how to mitigate or minimize risk.” A recent investigation by South Florida’s Sun Sentinel has found that Governor DeSantis has misled the public about the pandemic for months.

Urquiza also just shared on Twitter that she has now lost a fifth relative to coronavirus, Manuel Urquiza. While a formal obituary has not yet been posted, her post serves as yet another reminder of the depth of pain and rage many are feeling due to government inaction on coronavirus, and the hoops many of the affected have had to jump to simply lay loved ones to rest.

“24 hours after being diagnosed with #COVID he died. His body is in a refrigerator truck in El Paso. His wife in Juarez would like to bring him home however due to current border crossing laws cremation is the only option going against his personal and religious beliefs for his final rest,” the post says. “@CKeeves & I started #MarkedByCOVID to uplift the myriad of traumatic dimensions to this pandemic being caused by federal ineptitude. Here is yet another one.”

As coronavirus numbers continue to climb across the nation, with 173,457 new cases and 1,111 deaths on December 6th alone, no doubt more obituaries will continue to voice the rage of those left in mourning.

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