'Harder, scarier and lonelier than necessary.' Kansas man pens powerful obituary after losing father to COVID-19
Published Saturday, December 5, 2020 12:46PM EST
Courtney Farr says one of the hardest parts of losing his father to COVID-19 earlier this week was knowing he wasn't surrounded by his loved ones in his last moments.
"When my mother passed away about two years ago, I was able to sit with her ... and I was able to hold her hand and caress her face, I was able to be present with her," Farr told CNN's Don Lemon Friday night. "And I was able to comfort her the same way that she had comforted me so many times in my life."
"With my father, we couldn't do that, because he was in isolation," Farr said.
He says his family was able to say goodbye to his father, Marvin James Farr, virtually, the morning before he died.
"I'm glad I got to see him one last time, to tell him how much I loved him, how much he mattered to me. But in that moment, what you want to be able to do is you want to be able to reach out and hold his hand, to touch him, to spend as much time with him as you can."
Farr's story echoes the experiences of thousands of other families across the U.S. who have had to say a final goodbye to parents, siblings and other family members through a device because of COVID-19 isolation protocols. More than 278,900 Americans have died since the pandemic's start.
Farr says it was the building anger, fear, sorrow and frustration that led him to write a powerful obituary for his father, highlighting the toll of the pandemic and some Americans' rejection of public safety measures like face masks.
"He was preceded in death by more than 260,000 Americans infected with COVID-19. He died in a room not his own, being cared for by people dressed in confusing and frightening ways. He died with COVID-19 and his final days were harder, scarier and lonelier than necessary," an excerpt from the obituary, read aloud by Lemon, said.
His father, 81, was a veterinarian, Farr wrote. The science that guided his father's professional life has now "been disparaged and abandoned by so many of the same people who depended on his knowledge," he wrote.
It is "strange," Farr told Lemon, that some Americans seem to deny the science touted by leading health experts in this pandemic.
He says when he was growing up, he remembers medical professionals were highly respected, and doctors and nurses in his hometown were deemed some of the most important members of the community. Now, those same people who are "putting their own lives at risk" are attacked on social media.
"It's unfathomable to me, it violates everything I feel like I learned growing up about decency and care for others," he said. "And those are lessons I learned from my father."
His father, he wrote, was "born into an America recovering from the Great Depression and about to face World War 2, times of loss and sacrifice difficult for most of us to imagine. Americans would be asked to ration essential supplies and send their children around the world to fight and die in wars of unfathomable destruction."
"He died in a world where many of his fellow Americans refuse to wear a piece of cloth on their face to protect one another," he wrote.
In many ways, Farr told Lemon, he felt his father's death was political.
"When our local city councils, when our state legislatures, when they are refusing to enact policies that can protect people, they've made political decisions that result in people like my father dying the way that they are."