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The Winning Pandemic and Losing Grandma Abroad


Are you surprised about the pandemic’s continual impact on our lives? I am. When COVID-19 began to spread worldwide, I thought we would get it under control by the end of 2020... Yeah, that didn't happen!

This week, the coronavirus hit my home abroad and prevented our family from attending my grandmother's funeral services in the States.

My 100-year-old sweet and loving grandmother passed away in December of last year. Due to the unfortunate backup at the funeral home in Los Angeles, we had to wait until this afternoon for an opening to put her body to rest. My family wanted to travel, but the consistent increase in COVID-19 cases forced us to stay put.

The US pandemic situation is STUPID! Calling it stupid means it is disturbing to see how many families have lost loved ones due to the virus. According to the latest World Health Organization report, almost 500,000 people in the US have died due to coronavirus related complications.

The number of deaths in the US is approximately five times the entire population of Antigua and Barbuda.

If we experience a fraction of the fatal infections similar to the US, approximately 90,000 people could lose their lives. Yes, the sun shines every day in Antigua, and whether you have symptoms of the coronavirus or not, the beaches will take your breath away.

However, COVID-19 is on the island and on the rise.

In a little over one year, Antigua and Barbuda have encountered 249 cases of COVID-19 and seven related deaths. These numbers may seem like a joke compared to the pandemic’s impact in places such as the US, India, and Brazil. Yet, in a small nation with a recent surge, we have to do our best to keep numbers down.

Is your community on lockdown? Our country has an 8 PM curfew, restaurants are restricted to carry-out only, and schools are closed. We are taking multiple measures to limit the growing threat of massive community spread.

Does the COVID situation make me want to return to the US for more advanced medical resources? No. Antigua's physicians are competent, and you know about current hospital options in the States.

Living abroad during a pandemic has its challenges. Flights are limited and quarantine when returning is mandatory for residents.

While my family made arrangements this week for my grandmother’s funeral, I worked on my contribution. I had the heavy task of creating a tribute video to commemorate her life. As I collected videos and thousands of pictures of my grandmother's moments with family and friends, the process made me think about the legacy that I will leave behind.

According to my mother and her siblings, my grandmother’s commitment to Christianity is a central element of her legacy. In most of the video reflections I received, my aunts and uncles talked about how she influenced their decisions to develop relationships with God. My grandmother believed in the Biblical scriptures and transferred those beliefs to her children.

The legacy you and I will leave behind may include the books, videos, money, or other things we make.

From my grandmother’s model of 100 years, I realize that the love and spiritual values we embody through our relationships with family, friends, coworkers, and others will carry the heaviest weight to impact future generations. This comment is morbid, but prioritizing our time with the awareness of our inevitable physical deaths is vital.

We will experience losses, but we cannot let the pandemic win. It’s critical that we mourn our loved ones and then discover the strength to enable physical, mental, and spiritual growth into the best possible version of ourselves.

See the tribute video I made for my grandma below. I hope it inspires you to think about COVID-19 as a calling for you to follow your life’s purpose and invest in relationships and activities that matter. Share this with one person in need of a little hope during this pandemic.


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