Loss and Lessons During the Pandemic

A Rochester mom of six talks about the loss her family endured during the coronavirus pandemic and how she supported her family through.

A photo of Ayana Knox-Potts' family

Life has been rough. During the pandemic I lost my mother and grandmother. Four of our six children are Black males, making the time from March until now something I truly want to forget.

A parent trying to take care of your parent when they have an illness is hard enough, but the pandemic took it to another level. I was at the assisted living facility when the governor shut it down and I remember my mother crying. The pain is unbearable thinking about her; that is the last time we were able to hold a conversation. I know she did not understand as weeks passed without seeing her family.

How am I supposed to explain a disease I know nothing about?

I found myself going home to children who are in elementary, middle and high school trying to explain to them. What about their things, their friends, their sports, their classes, their routine, their dance, their plans for the school year, the yearbook committee, church? My husband began working from home, but how could he do that with six people in distress, traumatized by this?

We didn’t have enough food, toilet paper or information — and we had the means.

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Fast forward.

Now I am in a better place mentally, but this is only after I lost not one, but two people, had to explain a disease I know nothing about, had to regularly talk to my children about racism as this has actually caused more to come out and my boys to suffer from it and had to work through changes at my job. My support vanished.

Prayer, family and friends is what helped me through.

I found out the hard way that many don’t want to talk about death, pain or grief, so I had to cling to those who did. Many don’t want to face that this is a pandemic and our children are suffering, so I had to find things that filled those spaces for my children, such as 4-H, fostering a pet, children’s church online, pictures of the past and making videos with my children.

Many people have lost faith, but I found that is all that is left: faith, hope and love. I feel like this is the worst time to be a parent, a parent of Black boys, two of whom could pass for men, and yet it is the best time because I truly respect life, time and family because of the pandemic.

I also must keep in mind my pain is minor compared to what some other families are going through.

I am not sure what is in store, but I will do my best to be the best, help when I can and love when I can even through the tears.

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