Warren: Brother's COVID Death Brings New Kind of Grief

Senator describes losing Don Reed Herring
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2020 7:20 PM CDT
As Her Brother Was Dying, She Wondered: Is He Afraid? Is He Cold?
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren's eldest brother died last month.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

In an interview with the Atlantic about government and politics, Sen. Elizabeth Warren opened up about the death of her eldest brother. Don Reed Herring, 86, died of COVID-19 in April while isolated from his family—a new kind of death that brings what Warren called "a kind of grief that is new to all of us." Herring developed pneumonia in February, recovered, and was about to be released from rehab when someone else tested positive for the new coronavirus. "And then he got sick, and then he died, by himself," Warren said. "That's the hard part—really hard part. It’s hard to process things like this because everything is happening at a distance." They'd talk daily, she said, "and tell funny stories and laugh." Then one day, when Warren called, she was told her brother had been taken to the emergency room.

"In any other state of the world, I would have been there with him. We all would have been there with him," Warren said. While waiting for news, she said: "I just kept imagining what’s happening to him. Is he afraid? Is he cold? I kept thinking about whether he was cold." When her parents died, "I was with my brothers and my cousins and my kids. And we shared memories; we grieved together." That isn't happening during the pandemic. "And human beings—we’re not set up for that," she said. "We’re wired to be with each other." Warren was born after three boys, who all became military veterans; she talked about Don's service on the campaign trail, per the Washington Post. "She clearly revered them," Edward-Isaac Dovere writes in the Atlantic. "My brothers won’t get over this," Warren said. "They just won't." (More Elizabeth Warren stories.)

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