Five days before Christmas, my brother-in-law fell victim to the pandemic that has gripped the entire world. Marcelo was 51 with two teenagers and a wife, and he left behind a beautiful life.
But this story isn’t an anecdote about the coronavirus. It’s about the power of action during a devastating loss.
Upon hearing of Marcelo’s death, the love poured in. Flowers, plants, home-cooked meals, gift cards to restaurants, social media tributes. Nearly every day appeared a gesture on the doorstep or in the inbox or mailbox.
While all of this certainly could not take away the pain, it has made it more tolerable.
My sister hasn’t had to worry about what to make for dinner, or putting together a grocery list, thanks to a meal train initiated by school moms.
Marcelo’s best friend picked up the mortuary bill and family members covered death announcement costs.
Messages of condolence ran deep. “I’m sorry for your loss” was replaced with touching shares from those who knew Marcelo—from the kids’ kindergarten teacher and soccer coaches to distant cousins and former clients. Sympathy cards read “We are thankful for having Marcelo in our lives” and touched his family’s hearts.
Friends have sent photos of Marcelo from all stages of his life, shared stories from college and grade school. They’ve provided insight into a dad the kids will never really know and a past my sister can reflect on.
We drove in from out of state and for four days, got to work on the laundry and fixing things around the house, sometimes laughing, other times crying in between tasks. Our family was there to do whatever we could, even if that meant cleaning the yard.
It’s been just what my sister and her kids needed—an outpouring of comfort that insulated them as they grieved. It’s also been a shift in my perspective. I’ve seen dozens express they care by doing something for this family in their darkest hour—big or small. They’ve not just offered support but showed their support. And for this, I am eternally grateful.
During a time when so many are suffering, I am more aware of what I should do. A friend is quarantined with COVID? A meal is coming their way. Or a get-well card or a telephone call. I will never again say: Let me know if you need anything.
I will just do.
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