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Maryland Department of Health


From Grief to Recovery

Tom Zopler
Tom Zopler
Baltimore County

Baltimore City resident Tom’s experience with COVID-19 began as he was saying goodbye to a loved one. His mother, a 90-year-old resident of a retirement community, had contracted the virus and would pass nearly a day after Tom arrived to stand vigil by her bedside. 

As the lone representative of his family allowed in the room, Tom stood clad in a mask and gown as his mother lost her battle against the virus. When the end was near, he slipped off one of his gloves so he could hold her hand as she passed away.

Three days later, Tom began to experience a fever. The symptoms were troubling. “I didn’t know what was ahead of me. It all came crashing down on me, waking me from my grief and giving me another thing to be frightened of. I might have the same virus that just took my mother from me,” he said. 

Tom, 64, is a Communications writer for Catholic Relief Services and was able to work from home, isolating himself from friends for the month he was in isolation. In addition to a low fever, Tom also had a persistent cough and lost his sense of smell and taste. 

Tom’s social network has visited him from his porch and delivered much needed supplies for the month he remained isolated. Surprisingly, this time was somewhat rewarding to him. 

“In a way life was simpler. I could see the beauty in small things, like the holly tree outside my window. I also learned to appreciate some of the things I didn’t always notice like the value of my own health,” Tom said.

“Although my case was mild and most people who get this recover, the time I spent not knowing what was happening to me was troubling,” he said.