COLUMN: Tracy Renee Lee - COVID-19 Recovery Phase I

COLUMN:  Tracy Renee Lee -  COVID-19 Recovery Phase I


During the COVID-19 pandemic, I have my daughter and grandchildren staying with me. My daughter’s family lives in Hawaii. Her husband serves in our nation's military. He received orders for transfer back to the mainland and the moving company (engaged through the military) came over on Thursday morning, March 12, 2020, to pack up their household goods.

The company was very thorough and took everything my daughter owns. Her family’s clothing (including my son-in-law’s military uniforms), kitchen pots and pans, grooming and hygiene supplies, towels, furniture (including beds), linens, pantry contents, etc. were all neatly packed into a moving van and disappeared down the street. My daughter and her family were scheduled to leave the island about a week later. The children were excited because, for five days, they would be camping in their home and ordering pizza while they awaited airline flights to the mainland.

The following day, Friday, the military announced a ban on military travel. My daughter’s family was now stranded in their empty home indefinitely. She had no clothing for her family, no food, no way to prepare food, no toys, no television, no beds, no chairs or couches, no towels or soap for bathing; no anything.  Worse yet, the store shelves in Hawaii were empty. She texted me pictures of the commissary and Costco, nothing there but bare shelves.

My son-in-law sprang into action and got her and their two children on a civilian flight leaving Monday, March 16, 2020. They arrived in Dallas early Tuesday morning a little tired and frazzled. Unfortunately, my son-in-law was required to remain behind for his work.

Once we arrived at our home in East Texas with the children, we were concerned that with the limited options for entertainment, they might become very bored and melancholy. My daughter had the perfect solution; service to others.

Our funeral home sits on five acres of pecan trees. Pecan trees are self-pruning and so my grandchildren have spent their time gathering fallen branches and pulling weeds. My daughter lost her youngest son two years ago and he is buried on our funeral home campus. My grandchildren (his five-year-old brother and three-year-old sister) have spent many hours caring for his grave during their time here. They have served others as well by visiting via video chat. This service has offered connections for the confined to the joys and musings of children.

Service is a wonderful thing for idleness. It teaches lessons of love and gratitude. My grandchildren have given many hours of service to me, and to their brother, buried here beside my funeral home. I believe it is a summer they will never forget. I have enjoyed having them here and they have not been bored for one moment. Being with my grandchildren has blessed my life beyond measure. Having them here allows me to work without worrying over their wellbeing.

We have received news that their father’s orders have been postponed until a later date. It looks as though my grandchildren will remain with me through not only the spring but the summer as well.  Sadly, my daughter has developed potentially severe health issues.

I know it is hard on her husband to be so far away during such scary and uncertain times, but as Franklin D Roosevelt once said, “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”

Military families are familiar with long separations, extremely confined quarters, and dangers lurking around the corner. It doesn’t mean, however, that they like it. Now that American’s at large are experiencing some of the same day-to-day issues that military families routinely face, I wonder if the citizenry might better appreciate their plight.

I am married to a retired military war veteran. My daughter lived through the first Gulf War with her father in harm’s way. Now she suffers military imposed separation from her husband and worries that her family might suffer devastating health consequences. Life throws us difficult curves.

Times are hard. The isolation and loss of income for most American’s have caused serious effects on their health both physically and mentally.  It has brought on the signs and symptoms of grief.

Grief’s pains are the same whether you have lost a job, a loved one, your security, or your freedom.  The difference is the depth of pain associated with your loss and your ability to cope. 

Coping with the loss of freedom, socialization, and income that America is presently suffering, as well as the loss of loved ones for some, is very significant. American’s need to draw upon past disappointments and losses in order to structure their recovery. Some of us will bounce back with little effort, but some will not.

As fellow Americans, it is incumbent upon us to assist those who suffer more than ourselves and who lag behind in their recovery. How do we do this? I suggest that you take a tip from my daughter and my grandchildren, and offer service to others. If we each reach out and help another, we will see that not only are those we assist improved but we ourselves will be too.

Having my daughter and grandchildren with me during this uncertain time has been a marvelous blessing to me. Their examples of service and gratitude have been a wonder to behold. My grandmother survived the Great Depression. My daughter’s strategies for survival mirror my grandmother’s very closely. Isn’t it amazing how generations of families observe the same traditions and strategies decades later?

I am grateful for my children and my grandchildren. I am also grateful for my ancestors and the sacrifices they made for the liberation and formation of our great nation, for the hardships they endured through the ensuing generations, and for their tenacity to fight their battles and see their trials through. I pray that our generation will have that same tenacity as we enter the recovery phase of the Great COVID-19 Pandemic and the grief that engulfs us.  They did it, so can we.  We have so many more advantages than they did, so many more comforts.  All we need to do is decide that we can't be licked and then kick ourselves in gear.  American's are traditionally strong and good.  I believe we remain so.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a Certified Grief Counselor, Funeral Director, published author, syndicated columnist, and co-founder of the “Mikey Joe Children’s Memorial” and Heaven Sent, Corp. I write books, weekly bereavement articles, and Grief BRIEFs related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award.

It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.

For additional encouragement, read other articles or watch video “Grief Briefs,” please go to my website at

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