This is about my team of angels, those who have carried me through, albeit at a social distance, with complete selfless devotion.

My husband died during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place pandemic.

A grumpy, blusterful Irishman of 64, he was full of life, full of humor, full of love.  He commanded attention wherever he went, whether by his enormous intellect, his unabashed opinions, his meandering stories, his crazy ideas, his booming voice, his big smile, his boundless generosity, even his bushy white eyebrows.

Brian was big in every way.

We had so much to live for: 2 wonderful children, 3 grandchildren, our health, a dream house on the ocean in Maine, retirement and a future full of possibility.  Soon would be our 40th anniversary and ideas of travel to New Zealand, Italy, Ireland and more were fresh on the conversation plate.

Brian loved his work and would never retire.  He was full of confidence and worked round the clock, reading and watching every news source he could find. Though he loved to ski or paddle board or ride his bike, his passion was his work. His decisions didn’t always pan out, but he never questioned his commitment to push through any market downturn or unfortunate investment loss.

So, it was completely uncharacteristic when he became wracked with doubt and guilt over a poor strategy that cost him major loss during the unexpected market crash.  He fell into a deep, ugly depression from which nothing and no one could retrieve him.

We lost him to his shame after a month of inner torture.

But this isn’t about him right now.  It’s not about the month he gave us to love and encourage him or the piercing grief I’ve felt or the resulting loss of our family home.

This is about my team of angels, those who have carried me through, albeit at a social distance, with complete selfless devotion.

How unfortunate it is to have to face all the forms and paperwork that immediately follows death.  Taxes, estate planning, death notifications, probate, health benefits and wills – all time-sensitive; all demanding a clear head and an understanding of things I never had to face.

I may have managed most everything else in our marriage, but this domain fell squarely in Brian’s able hands.  Thank god my brother-in-law is an attorney with connections to legal specialists, and my sister-in-law is a financial manager who is helping me with all aspects of financial planning.  My other brother-in-law is ridiculously handy and drove to Boston from Michigan 3 times to help me clean out my basement, workshop, and shed that was full of 40 years of junk.

Thank god for my brother who helped me organize my accounts and taxes, and my sister who stepped up to post and sell many of my belongings, track down my marriage and birth certificate, and help me figure out Medicare and Social Security. Thank god for my best friend who handled all of the funeral home details, my daughter who in her own grief helped me pack up the house and fight for the life insurance payout, and my son who has overseen everything and become our family backbone.

Thank god my circle of friends stepped up to help me find a therapist, make me dinners, and check on me daily while I tried to put my life back together again.  How I would have managed all this by myself I’ll never know.

All I know is that I’ve been gently carried through this most traumatic month in the arms of people who love me, who kept me sane and safe and helped me survive.  I am grateful beyond words.

I lost my husband, but I am not alone.

Janice Levine lives and works in Massachusetts