Stunned by their husbands’ sudden deaths, widows of Covid-19 forge ties.


By Julie Bosman

More than 340,000 people have died of the coronavirus in the United States. Men have died of the disease in larger numbers than women, which has left untold thousands of spouses suddenly widowed by the virus.

They have been left behind with family responsibilities, financial burdens, worries about their children’s trauma and their own crushing loss and guilt.

In more than a dozen interviews, women told of feeling stunned by the swiftness of the experience.

“It’s very traumatic because of the unexpectedness of it,” said Jennifer Law, whose husband, Matthew, died of the coronavirus in Texas in November, years after serving in the Army in Iraq. “He made it back from two deployments, two separate, dangerous deployments. He came home and this is what killed him.”

Many of the women have sought out other Covid-19 widows to talk to, and others have joined Facebook bereavement groups, which are also open to men. They have forged ties similar to those found among other clusters of women whose husbands died unexpectedly and prematurely, including military spouses or widows of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Widows of the coronavirus recounted a painful set of commonalities: the experience of frantically taking care of their husbands when they fell ill, worrying about when to take them to a hospital and feeling haunted by the images of their partners dying without loved ones beside them.

Some women’s grief has been laced with anger.

Mara Vaughan, of Prosper, Texas, lost her husband, Bryan, to the coronavirus in April, after he quite likely contracted it on a business trip. Ms. Vaughan, who has three children, has connected with other widows online and read about their struggles, financial and emotional.

She pointed to President Trump and his downplaying of the coronavirus crisis, especially early on, when her husband became sick. It is difficult to see people in her community still shunning masks and ignoring advice on safety and social distancing.

“Imagine the pandemic and losing someone to it and then doing it alone,” Ms. Vaughan said. “I will never have peace and closure on the death of my husband. It should never have happened.”

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