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Woman who lost dad to COVID-19 among those facing FEMA funeral assistance issues

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Posted at 12:17 PM, Apr 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-16 12:17:06-04

Nancy Abramson’s father, Paul, died from COVID-19 nearly a year ago on April 23, 2020. She says she’s dreading the fact that the anniversary of his death is coming up, but she plans to visit the cemetery where her father was laid to rest for the first time since his funeral.

“It really wasn't much. It was really sad the whole phenomenon of only having three people, especially since he was just a really fun party-oriented guy who would have wanted a big sendoff,” said Nancy.

Paul Abramson was a vibrant 92-years-old when he got sick last year before anyone knew much about the virus.

When testing and PPE were hard to come by. Nancy did everything she could to protect her dad, including hiring someone to care for him, bringing him into her home, and fighting for a test.

After about a month of being sick, eventually Paul ended up in the hospital.

“They did let me go in. I had to all PPE up, but you know, he died like a day and a half later, so it was just a grueling situation, a month of unknowns,” said Nancy.

Now, she has to navigate another difficult situation, applying for funeral reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

In the support group Marked by COVID, there are stories of people calling the assistance line and getting busy signals as well as long wait times, which can be a gut punch for families still grieving lost loved ones.

“I am pleased to find out that we get our funeral expenses reimbursed, but it just, it still feels like a slap in the face, you know what I mean, like our government didn't take care of us. When this all occurred, they didn't take care of my father,” said Nancy.

FEMA has never delivered funeral assistance on this scale before. It stated it will do its very best to ensure every person who needs to file an application can do so as easily as possible. There is no deadline to apply.

Meanwhile, Nancy feels like she's doing her father justice by talking about him.

“When he was a travel agent, he was always going to parties and having pictures taken and would show it to me and I didn't really care. I’m like great dad, so I do feel like I’m really, you know, the more publicity I can get for him, the happier I know that would make him, and that makes me happy too,” said Nancy.