In Italy, the coronavirus steals even the last farewell

Thousands are dying alone

3/27/2020

“I watched him as he was getting into the ambulance, and that was it,” writes one daughter about her father. “A good-bye wave and he was gone'

Thousands are dying alone

hub FOR A SOCIETY with legendarily strong family ties, and one in which physical and emotional closeness are inseparable, the enforced isolation brought about by the coronavirus is distressing enough. But covid-19 has done something more: it has torn the dying from their relatives and friends in a way that is worse than distressing. It is straziante, which an Italian dictionary defines as causing “a very acute physical or moral pain, beyond any capacity for tolerance”. Take the case of the Mercalli family, from Vigevano, a town south of Milan near the river Po with a magnificent arcaded piazza and a 16th-century cathedral. Luciano Mercalli was the owner of the kind of medium-sized manufacturing firm around which the Italian economy is built. Founded in the 1950s at the start of Italy’s post-war boom, Cerim makes machinery for making shoes. Mr Mercalli, in common with tens of thousands of other Italians, developed the symptoms of covid-19. They grew worse. In early March an ambulance was called to take him to hospital. “I watched him as he was getting into the ambulance, and that was it,” his daughter, Anna, later wrote in a letter to the Milanese newspaper, Corriere della Sera. “A good-bye wave and he was gone.” For the next 12 days Mr Mercalli lay in hospital until, on March 15th, he died, aged 78. But neither Anna nor any of his other loved ones could visit him for fear they, too, might catch the dauntingly contagious disease. “I am haunted by the thought of him dying alone in that bed. Was he frightened? Did he suffer? Did his very lovely blue eyes weep?” his daughter asked. In a country where many of the elderly live with, or close to, their children and grandchildren, tens of thousands of relatives and friends of the dead are being denied closure. “Let us pray for the many people who are dying alone, without being able to say goodbye to their loved ones,” Pope Francis tweeted. “Let us pray also for the families who cannot accompany their loved ones on that journey,” he added. “If you want to understand Italians, you have to understand their physicality,” says Luca Vullo, an actor-director and the author of a book on the Italians’ non-verbal communication. Here, it is unexceptional to sign off a letter to an acquaintance of the opposite sex with baci (kisses). If you really wish to convey affection, you need to ratchet up to un abbraccio (a hug) or un abbraccione (a big hug). The concept of invading body space, dear to northern Europeans and North Americans, just does not exist in Italy. At breakfast time, people cheerfully jostle one another at the bar to get at their cappuccino and cornetto as they do in a myriad other contexts. Whereas in Britain and several other countries the social distancing recommended for the duration of the pandemic is two metres, here the most the government felt it could get away with was one metre. Even that is widely—and quite unwittingly—ignored, which may be one reason for the alarming rate of contagion. Yet in the midst of what the prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, has called Italy’s “darkest hour”, Italians have been deprived of their ability to sit with their loved ones at a time when they most need a kiss on the forehead and a squeeze of the hand. In another letter to the Corriere, a man described how his mother, who is in quarantine, had heard of the death of his father; how she “learned of the disappearance of the man with whom she had spent more than sixty years of her life from a landing, in a mask.” And when it is all over, the relatives and friends of the victims often cannot even accompany them to the cemetery or crematorium. Funerals, too, are banned along with assemblies of all kinds. In some areas like Bergamo, north of Milan, the morgues and mortuaries have reached capacity, so lines of military lorries have been sent in to cart away the coffins for unceremonious disposal. Giorgio Gori, Bergamo’s centre-left mayor, said on March 24th that more than a hundred people a day were dying in the city and surrounding province. “We've asked for help from undertakers in other regions, notably Emilia and Trento, and the army has helped us by transporting coffins to crematoriums in other cities.” Roberta Zaninoni, whose father Giuseppe died in Alzano Lombardo, a town near Bergamo, said the undertakers there were stacking up coffins in the churches. On a midnight visit to her family, the undertaker who had taken possession of her father’s body had told them it would take two or three weeks for it to be cremated. “Just today, I have closed 63 coffins,” he said. Dig deeper: For our latest coverage of the covid-19 pandemic, register for The Economist Today Read more: The Economist

Really Sad🙁 Closure means getting ill at this point and the already lost so much… it is not denial it is protecting them… this thread is all wrong… 必须这样,否则容易被尸体上的病毒传染。 Well this virus has certainly stolen the dignity from so many in death. Italian doctors spoke about the dying begging to see their loved ones one last time. Paramount to stay home and protect the ones you love. Do not think this virus cannot destroy your family

Well my question is are they going to keep looking for closure like people who's family members were killed. The media always say they are looking for closure. Coronavirus seems like it's a serial killer. THEY SHOULD HAVE TOOK THE WARNINGS Are you positing yet another ingenious exploitative business opportunity? Cool. Even by your standards.

This is sadly true! Thanks for writing this beautiful “ad memoriam”! Sad. But Italian bureaucracy, lack of effective communication and real economic help/planning, is killing us, too. Not only Isolation from loved ones, we face not having enough money to eat or pay employees. And get treated like criminals when walking our dogs. Dystopia

Why families in Italy can't say goodbye to the deadFunerals have been banned in Italy - robbing many families of the chance to say a final goodbye. It’s denying dignity to anyone who dies of it. 😕 fuckoffCovid19

Hard Times the government must give a lot of psychological help to overcome these great losses of loved ones, God leaves us great promises including eternal life and especially I believe that God will never separate two people who love each other, love and faith overcomes death ... The feeling of permanent absence of loved ones is unbearable feeling. Not seeing them to say the final goodbye aggravate the pain. Time is a great healer !

And italian gov tell again... thank you china... during the ebola hemorragic fever outbreak in West Africa all dead were buried,in Italy all dead of coronavirus pneumonia are cremated,no explanation was provided by the authorities so far . This is the most sad of sad things to know people have loved ones - and are separated at death I wonder often if my parents love me Because of all the secrets they keep, I really dont know But to know one had loved ones - and to be separated at their death Extremely sad

In Italy and the rest of the world. Not like in the Great Empire, where people are dignified like the Queen A lot of lifestyle changes; a lot of cultural changes; a lot of behavioral changes have been affected by COVID19. Italians are known for their effusive display of affection. With SocialDistancing in play, all of that has 2 change.

Yes Its true. Situation is werry bed. People death single out family next go to army cars in night and next go to crematory out family. All has strong rullers stop epidemy covid 19! Lubos

A deluge of death in northern ItalyDeluge of Death: Coronavirus deaths in Italy’s Lombardy region have surpassed those in China’s Hubei province, the original epicentre of the outbreak. In this Reuters graphic, we show how that happened via SimonScarr and Manas Sharma SimonScarr Lombardy has suffered immensely, may the town gets back to it's feet fast. Prayers. SimonScarr SimonScarr How can you trust anything China says? The CCP is the devil

Funerals have been banned in Italy - robbing many families of the chance to say a final goodbye. So did ebola. It was sick and agonising to read about. Not to mention need for sex. Some action, America must take against originator of coronavirus. A dreadful situation. But Chinese authority took it so dangerously. USA & UK must act. StayHome & be safe.

अफगानिस्तान में सिखों की हत्या कर दी गई और पाकिस्तान कश्मीर के लिए भौंक रहा है क्या कुछ जिहादी कभी सुधरेंगे जब विश्व में मानवता का सबसे बड़ा संकट है Why did not USA gather info from trends appeared much before at stepped there.. China virus. China should be penalized for killing thousands of innocent people. Fucking dictator. 😠

This is the unseen & up until now not spoken tragedy of this epidemic, it is literally creating emotional holes in families world wide. The normal norms around end of life are being broken for doctors, nurses, families & friends. The true social effects of this are huge. Take note Australia l

For Help On Coronavirus, Italy Turns To China, Russia And CubaTeams from Russia, China and Cuba have arrived in Italy in recent days to help fight the coronavirus outbreak. There's gratitude among Italians — as well as anger that the U.S., a traditional ally, has seemed absent. We are with you Italy! 🇮🇹 🙏🏼💙 from an American, I’m so sorry. We are flying blind over here Under realDonaldTrump USA can’t take care of itself sadly let alone help others The United States is not going to be the preeminent power after this is over. I think Americans are going to have to come to grips with the consequences of 'America First' policies that were implemented without global leadership in play.

86-year-old Italian woman's recovery from COVID-19 offers glimmer of hope in Northern ItalyAn 86-year-old woman in the crisis-hit region of Lombardy, Italy, has made a full recovery after being hospitalized with the novel coronavirus—offering a rare glimmer of hope as the country continues to struggle with the pandemic. Good for her💕 It's hard to keep an Italian Nonna down.👍

Spain's Coronavirus Death Toll Soars Past China's, Trailing Only ItalySpain is now the second European country with a death toll higher than China's. Spain's health ministry says it is buying more than 5 million coronavirus 'quick tests' from China. ChinaLiedPeopleDied Any update on why china unenrolled 22 Million people off the CCP mandated cell billing services at the end of their Pandemic Response? Expters are saying it directly relates to the true death toll in China. ChinaLiedAndPeopleDied Doubt others if you can't. It's better to build more hospitals when you have time. Laugh at China to comfort yourself. Low and boring.

'We are collapsing': Virus pummels medics in Spain and Italy'We are collapsing.' The coronavirus is wearing down health workers worldwide but nowhere is it worse than in Italy and Spain, where protective equipment and tests have been in severely short supply for weeks. Maybe they can take a few sick days? These are not ‘developed’ nations. These nations are 2nd world, falling somewhere between the 1st and 3rd, and paying for it now with their socialized medicine and out-moded ways. Don’t get me wrong, it’s tragic, but these are the facts. How's that 'socialized' medicine working out?



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