What happens to the surviving family members after losing a loved one to COVID? We don’t often hear the turmoil that moms, dads, brothers, sisters, spouses and others face.
Christian Cabrera was 40 years old when he died of COVID-19 this past weekend. The young father of a 3-year-old boy was only diagnosed two weeks earlier, so it was sudden.
Christian Cabrera. (FOX 11)
He wasn’t vaccinated.
Of his brother, Jino Cabrera told FOX 11 that Christian didn’t get vaccinated.
He said he was "the type that says ’I never get sick,’" and he wasn’t sure about the science.
The night before Christian Cabrera died at Sherman Oaks Hospital, he wrote: "I can’t breathe. I really regret not getting the vaccine. If I could do it all over again I would do it in a heartbeat to save my life."
The family is torn up.
"My mom… she misses him so much," Jino said.
Cabrera said it’s hard enough to grieve for a loved one who died suddenly but Jino is learning the tough lessons of assuming responsibility for a dead family member.
"It’s been really hard because we didn’t prepare for this," he told FOX 11. "We wanted to grieve for him. And two days later we get a call from the hospital saying, ’Why haven’t you picked up your brother yet?’"
If things weren’t heart-wrenching enough, he says a hospital worker told him, "…we don’t have any more room in this morgue that we have. We’re full. Gotta pick him up."
Cabrera said he’s called many funeral homes and cemeteries and can’t even get an appointment until February. The hospital has given Cabrera till Friday to make arrangements to have his body picked up.
"I had to beg the hospital to keep his body there and they said I’m afraid we can’t do that. We’re full," he added.
Dr. Angelique Campen, who works at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, says this story is more common than you know.
"I can tell you that our morgue at the hospital is full. This is an issue everywhere," she said.
Dr. Campen said when a loved one dies of COVID-19 or anything else, the burden shifts to the living.
"The body will stay at the hospital but now it’s your turn, unfortunately, to make the arrangements for that person," she explained.
Meanwhile, Jino Cabrera said consider his brother’s last text message because, as Dr. Campen said, it’s the living who have to care for their dead.
"Get the vaccine because he would have been alive today if he had gotten the vaccine," said Jino.
Jino Cabrera has set up a GoFundMe page to help with burial and funeral costs for his brother.
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