By Onz Chery |

About a year after the Haitian-American community was left devastated by the deaths of numerous of its members to COVID-19, The Haitian Times checks back on a Brooklyn resident who lost her mother. The wound is still fresh.

Dominique Michel and her five sisters take turns calling each other in the middle of the night to comfort one another. The calls have been helping, but almost a year after losing their mother Jeanine Michel to COVID-19, the grief is still unbearable. 

Michel misses the daily phone calls from her mother, every single day at 5:15 p.m. during her drive home from work. She misses her mother’s constant reminder to be a fanm vanyan (valiant woman). She misses the way her mother used to tease her behind her back with her sisters. The list goes on.

Jeanine Michel died at 81 of the novel coronavirus in Brooklyn last April.

“It’s the worst thing that could happen,” said Michel, 46, with tears welling up in her eyes. “I continuously relive the trauma from those days when she was sick to the point that she passed. Not a day goes by without me thinking about her.”

Still, many Haitian-Americans feel like it’s a long way from normal. Even for the practices that help with grief.

The Michel family had postponed Jeanine Michel’s memorial to this year and has postponed it again as restrictions are still in place.

“This COVID thing is not going away,” Michel said. “We have to resign ourselves for now to do her tombstone. That’s all we’re able to do at this point. People still [refrain] from traveling, there’s still a lot of restrictions. I don’t know when we’d be able to do the funeral.” 

“I do hope that we actually turn the corner,” she added.

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Onz Chery is a Haiti correspondent for The Haitian Times. Chery started his journalism career as a City College of New York student with The Campus. He later wrote for First Touch, local soccer leagues in New York and Elite Sports New York before joining The Haitian Times in 2019.

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