This week on the Minnesota Native News Health Report, we check in at the Elder’s Lodge for a reflection on how the pandemic has been for one elder and a national agency is helping pay funeral costs for COVID-related deaths. We’ll tell you how to apply for up to $9,000 in reimbursements through FEMA.
Pandemic Reflections with Bridget Saice-Childs
The last two years of the pandemic have brought plenty of devastation, the loss of in-person connections, disruption to many school programs, and the loss of first speakers.
Bridget Saice-Childs of the White Earth Nation is a resident of the Elder’s Lodge in St. Paul. This week, she shared with us how things have been going and what she’s been thinking about.
“Right now I’m doing well, I just moved back. I previously lived here in the Elder Lodge. And I moved back because of COVID, because I was living with my daughter and her two young children and she refused to get them vaccinated. So and I’m high risk with diabetes and a heart condition. So I decided to come back and stay here,” said Saice-Childs.
There was a mixed response to vaccination in the family. One of Bridget’ sons got vaccinated and boosted as soon as he could. Another opposes the vaccine. She hasn’t seen him in-person in two and a half years. Her daughter initially opposed the vaccine too, but
“She finally realized she needs her mama in her life. She decided to get vaccinated. I think mostly that my grandchildren were really bugging her about not having their Coco around,” said Saice-Childs.
Bridget helped with caretaking and remote learning earlier in the pandemic. Her daughter declined the vaccine for her young children, however, because she is concerned about the long-term effects of the COVID vaccine. (In January, the whole house caught COVID and recovered.)
“So, um, Other than that, I’ve been pretty, pretty. I don’t want to say, um, it’s hard to be with your friends and do things and I miss pow wows, I miss all the things we used to do. We have a drum group that we haven’t been able to have for. We’re going to start back again, hopefully in April. But we used to perform all over the cities. And now, it’s been very, very limited. And actually we haven’t I haven’t think for like, almost two years. over two years now, so hopefully, I’ll remember the song,” said Saice-Childs.
Bridget is grateful to not have any losses in her family, and thinks Covid is something we’ll have to learn to live with.
“I’m 72. So I plan on just enjoying my time here. And the rest of the time I am here. And to help. My theory is we’re put down on this Earth to help one another. So that’s what I do. I just help people,” she said.
Miigwech to Bridget Saice-Childs for sharing with us.
FEMA Burial Assistance
In other news, the Federal Emergency Management Agency – or FEMA – is providing funeral assistance to help “ease some of the financial stress and burden caused by the pandemic.”
People may qualify for up to $9,000 for funeral or burial expenses of COVID-related deaths dating as far back as Jan. 20, 2020. Families can apply for reimbursements for multiple people’s funeral expenses up to $35,000.
Expenses covered include funeral services, cremation, burial plots, headstones, and officiant services.
Funding is provided under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
FEMA Covid Funeral Assistance page: https://www.fema.gov/disaster/coronavirus/economic/funeral-assistance
COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Helpline (844) 684-6333, available Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EDT.
Feven Gerezgiher reporting for the Minnesota Native News Health Report.
The MN Native News Health Report is made possible with funding from the Minnesota Department of Health
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