‘Miss her so’: 1 year later, COVID widower copes with grief


Mary Kay Alexander was 60 when she died March 14, 2020

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Exactly one year ago, Brian Alexander and his wife, MaryKay went to a memorial in Washington state.

“MaryKay and I were at the memorial service for her brother and that’s where we contracted COVID, was over the weekend of the 28th through the 1st of last year,” he told KOIN 6 News. “So it hit me pretty hard in that way.”

Two weeks later, on March 14, MaryKay died unexpectedly. She was 60.

“She collapsed on the floor in our bedroom, and I did CPR and then they took her away in the ambulance and she died in the emergency room. That’s when they did the COVID test and 72 hours later it came back positive.”

He, too, tested positive after her death.

February 28th marked one year since Oregon’s first confirmed COVID case. The Oregon Health Authority shared a post on Facebook from Brian stating, “I miss her so much. Trying to pull my life together still. We were married for 22 years — no kids, just the two of us.”

For those who didn’t know MaryKay, Brian said she was loving and giving.

“She was from Hawaii. If you know anyone from Hawaii, you know they are very giving,” he said. “There is the spirit of aloha that permeates their culture and she was a super volunteer around our area.”

Brian Alexander with his late wife MaryKay Alexander. (Courtesy of Brian Alexander)

The coronavirus, he said, might not even affect you. “But you could be that one person in a 100,000, like my wife, that dies. So it’s a good idea to be careful, especially around people that you love, especially older people that you love.”

Brian was part of the Phase 1B group to get the vaccine.

“Got my first dose and probably getting my second one next week,” he said. “I would encourage everyone to get it so we can get done with this, move on, let’s let the world move on.”

There has been more than 155,000 cases and for many families, it hits close to home. More than 2200 people in Oregon from COVID-19. Every one of those people is someone’s loved one and many are finding ways to cope with grief.

The Oregon Health Authority is having a live question-and-answer session on their Facebook page Wednesday to help those coping with grief.

These days Brian Alexander is turning to music, playing guitar for his church to help him cope with the grief.

“It’s been a real healing process for me. That’s one of the ways that keeps me sane, basically, is playing music.”

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