Janice Dean: Cuomo, COVID and the anniversary of my mother-in-law's death – why this week was so hard


“And once the storm is over you won’t remember you how made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what the storm’s all about.”

— Haruki Murakami, “Kafka on the Shore”

I have this quote printed out and posted on my wall. I have read it every day and I realized my family has lived through that storm.

April 14th was the one-year anniversary of my mother-in-law Dolores “Dee” Newman’s death.  We remembered my father-in-law Mickey’s passing at the end of March. As many of you know, we lost them both to COVID in long-term care facilities.

Janice Dean, husband Sean Newman and mother-in-law Dee Newman

Janice Dean, husband Sean Newman and mother-in-law Dee Newman
(Courtesy of Janice Dean)

This week has felt like the toughest I’ve had in a year. It’s as if my body and mind have been in a constant state of survival mode. Finally, on the anniversary of my mother-in-law’s death, I fell apart.


I cried all day. I couldn’t stop. I would distract myself for a little bit with work and chores around the house and then the levees holding back the water would break.

I couldn’t stop thinking of my husband Sean’s mom. Even though Easter is such a beautiful holiday with tremendous meaning, it was a reminder this year that the last thing Dee wanted us to do before she died was to write her name on some gifts for our children.

Janice Dean with sister- in-law Donna, her husband Sean, her niece Danielle and Danielle’s boyfriend Chris at the "We Care" Memorial Wall in Brooklyn, N.Y. on March 21, 2021.

Janice Dean with sister- in-law Donna, her husband Sean, her niece Danielle and Danielle’s boyfriend Chris at the “We Care” Memorial Wall in Brooklyn, N.Y. on March 21, 2021.

My husband still reaches for his phone to check in with her and hear her voice. They shared such a special bond between mother and her son, and I feel it with my own boys.  There is nothing quite like it, and perhaps that’s why the grief came in such a tremendous wave. 

For the first time in a year, after fighting for accountability for Dee’s death and my father-in-law’s, I felt like giving up.  I wanted to let go and stop screaming. 

I felt so tired and overwhelmingly sad. The storm was beating me down and finally winning. 

The governor who wronged us, lied, and never apologized continues to be in office. He’s not going to be punished even though there are multiple investigations, ethical violations and enough evidence to kick him out of office for good.

I’ve written thousands of words, attended countless rallies, spoken with grieving families and tried with all my might to raise attention to the atrocities that happened in nursing homes after COVID came to them.


I blame our governor for being reckless and irresponsible for the deaths of thousands of seniors in New York.

He celebrated himself, with the help of complacent media, selling a $4 million dollar memoir to the highest bidder filled with lies and inaccuracies.

High-profile news anchors and hosts fawned over him, never asking about his tragic decisions, and whispered about him as a future president all while we were unable to see our loved ones before they died and have wakes or funerals afterward to help us get through our grief.

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We watched in horror as our governor promoted himself and his disgusting book while profiting off the deaths of tens of thousands, including our loved ones, as he thanked the academy for his Emmy award. 

And after all of this, going into another spring, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is still in charge.

The headlines telling of his malfeasance are becoming fewer with the spotlight on his misdeeds dimming. 

Our elected leaders are too spineless to impeach him. 

He still stands there during closed press events pretending that everything is fine without reporters there to ask the questions we desperately want answers to. 


He stages these daily events claiming he’s getting things done. COVID is not over. And we must remain New York Tough.

And for the thousands of families who still have to hear him speak and see his unremorseful face on a daily basis, it is, for us truly one of the toughest things we have to endure. It’s a constant reminder that our abuser still goes unpunished. Our open wounds will never heal as long as the man who caused us so much harm is still in power.

When does it end? I’m not sure.

But after I had my day of sadness this week, crying thousands of tears of loss and frustration, I prayed to God for the strength to keep going.

Because our storm is not over.  And I’m not the same person who walked into it last year.  But I will continue to weather it as long as it takes. I’ll adjust my sails and carry on.


And in the end, perhaps the reason the storm has lasted this long

Is because the storm all along has been inside

Of me.



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