‘When It Does Happen to You, It Changes You’: Las Vegan shares pain of losing loved one to COVID, urges precautions


LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — As COVID-19 numbers continue to rise in Nevada, a local woman shared the pain of losing her grandmother to the virus. 

“She was the funniest lady ever,” Erica Casale remembered of grandmother, Marlene. “She would have everyone laughing.”

This light and love are memories she now cherishes after COVID-19 cut her family member’s life short last November. 

Erica and her grandmother, Marlene

“Her health just declined,” Casale told 8 News Now. “It went from pneumonia to pancreatitis to her kidneys, until it finally just took her.”

The topic is excruciating, but Casale wants others to understand the trauma this virus brings. 

“When your family member is dying, and you can’t hold their hand because of the severity of COVID, you can’t say your final goodbye, and your final goodbye is through a glass door, that changes you,” she shared.

Unfortunately, Marlene’s story is anything but rare, according to Laura Sussman, funeral director and owner of Kraft-Sussman Funeral & Cremation Services. 

Laura Sussman

“The numbers are increasing,” she warned. “We are seeing it every day get a little worse.”

Sussman said her team has been overwhelmed since the start of the pandemic, and while things got better for a few months, one-third of those she currently cares for have died of COVID-19 complications. 

“I don’t think the general community has any clue about the severity of this” Sussman told us. “It’s coming back, and it’s only going to get worse.”

Erica and Marlene

Therefore, Casale is encouraging everyone to protect themselves and those they love from this very same fate. 

“When it does happen to you, it changes you,” she said. “So, you really should take extra precautions.” 

For a look at Nevada’s latest COVID-19 numbers, click here.

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