Should I attend this wake?
September 12, 2022 9:15 PM   Subscribe

Should I attend the wake of a good friend's father this Saturday? I would normally go without question, however, I just tested positive for COVID on Friday.

I have had some symptoms for a couple of days (like a bad head cold) but I feel almost 100% today with no fever. Per CDC guidelines (and the rules of the school district where I work), I can return to work on Wednesday and will have to wear a mask through Saturday. Masks are required at this wake regardless.

I would really like to attend the wake to support my friend for obvious friend reasons, but especially because she was there for me when my own father passed away almost 20 years ago when we were in college. However, I really don't want to risk infecting anyone.

What should I do? The wake is three hours away, but I'd gladly do that round trip in a day to show support, even if it is just standing outside of the funeral home to show my face for a few moments (well, half of my face anyway, as I'd be wearing an N95), as long as I could do that safely.

I also don't want to be disrespectful by taking unnecessary risks with other peoples' health by showing up while still under masking guidelines.
posted by Shadow Boxer to Health & Fitness (15 answers total)
Do NOT go. Send your friend a letter expressing your condolences and how grateful that she's been there for you....and if you know what her father's favorite treats were, have them delivered to the wake.
posted by brujita at 9:22 PM on September 12, 2022 [21 favorites]

I wouldn't go- wakes tend to attract an older crowd so I'd be extra cautious in that environment. Maybe you can visit your friend the following weekend and take them out to lunch or dinner as another way to show your support?
posted by emd3737 at 9:24 PM on September 12, 2022 [7 favorites]

I wouldn't go if I was still testing positive. If you're on Paxlovid or something you might falsely test negative and then have a rebound, but otherwise if you're testing negative Friday and Saturday, I would consider going. *only because everyone will be masked including you*
posted by getawaysticks at 9:28 PM on September 12, 2022 [3 favorites]

Can you get a PCR on Friday? I'd go if you're testing negative on a rapid or standard PCR.

If you can't go, definitely send flowers and snacks.
posted by potrzebie at 10:34 PM on September 12, 2022 [1 favorite]

It's not impossible for you to be non-infectious on Saturday, which is eight days. But you should only go if you have two negative rapid tests on two consecutive days, and as close as possible to the wake (so the second should be on Saturday morning). What people think "masking" means varies a lot. And you say you're ok with just showing your face, but it's very easy to get drawn into a conversation, or a handshake, or a hug. And it's going to be awkward, at the minimum, if you tell people you still have covid.

The CDC guidelines are based around keeping society running, not preventing infection. And rapid tests are a good indicator of infectiousness.

You will probably test positive on PCR tests for weeks or months after you've cleared the infection (and are not infectious), so they're not useful in this situation.
posted by meowzilla at 11:56 PM on September 12, 2022 [15 favorites]

Don't go. Imagine if you gave COVID to your friends mother/aunt/uncle and they died as a result.
posted by carriage pulled by cassowaries at 3:01 AM on September 13, 2022 [3 favorites]

No, you shouldn’t spend time indoors, even masked, at this wake. Even if every single guest at the wake knows about the timeline of your illness and agrees to you being there, the funeral home staff aren’t in a position to say no. Wakes have both an older crowd and a crowd of people who might normally be very cautious but are making an exception for this one devastating thing. It’s a time for extra caution, if anything.

I don’t think it would be the worst thing in the world to make the drive to stand outside, masked, a good distance away from your friend to give them your love - but would that honestly be what would be helpful to your friend? I don’t know them, of course, but in their shoes I personally would get much more from a warmly written email or a video call before or after the wake, than from having to duck out of the wake to spend a few minutes loud-talking over a six foot distance. I think it’s a kind offer to make but make sure your friend really wants it before you do it.
posted by Stacey at 4:01 AM on September 13, 2022 [8 favorites]

I think it depends on the criticality of your presence. Immediate relative or critical supporter, if it were your friend or her partner who had it for example, I might say to go anyway. If your friend really needs you there for her own health and sanity I might say go anyway. (And wear an N95 and stay outside for any socializing/optional bits and tell people who come talk to you that you have covid if you aren't testing negative again yet).

But if you're going more for your own satisfaction, to do the thing you can for your friend out of gratitude, I would say to do a different thing instead. Does she need any help with putting together logistics? Can you be the friend who remembers for the long haul, beyond the funeral and keeps reaching out and sending love?
posted by Lady Li at 5:06 AM on September 13, 2022 [2 favorites]

No. CDC guidelines prioritize keeping the workforce running over prevalence of infection. Perhaps gauge your need to attend using this rubric: How many people are you willing to infect? I too would probably drive the three hours to stand outside for my friend, and also send food (or booze, if that's culturally acceptable) to the wake.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 5:16 AM on September 13, 2022 [7 favorites]

send your friend a note telling them how much it mattered to you when they supported you way back when and how much you want to help. you can’t right now because of the damn plague but you are here for them otherwise, for anything. the real work of mourning starts after the wake anyway, and there’s lots of time yet to have her back
posted by dis_integration at 5:54 AM on September 13, 2022 [16 favorites]

If what is key is supporting your friend (vs. the friend's family), another alternative is to go to where the funeral will be, but not attend the funeral or any indoor spaces besides your airbnb/hotel (and make sure to keep the windows open), and then offer to hang out one-on-one with your good friend afterward. That is, if they would want you to do that - presuming that they are not high-risk, and you test negative, they might feel fine about whatever risk that may present. Or maybe they'll know that between the funeral and reception, they'll be totally wiped out and not actually want to further be around people.

In short, I think you should see what your friend wants in this situation.
posted by coffeecat at 7:10 AM on September 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

I'd wear an N95 and go. It's not March 2020 and you will have been 8 days since a positive test.
posted by rhymedirective at 7:24 AM on September 13, 2022

As others have said, do not go and put anyone at risk. Be there for your friend for the long haul, in the weeks and the months afterwards when so many people who are grieving feel the most alone.

Over the past year I have had to plan funerals for two immediate family members. The planning and grieving were made even more difficult by concerns of COVID. We wanted to honor our loved ones but we were in constant worry about someone getting infected from the services. In addition to our precautions, we really had to trust people to do their part- to stay home if they were sick, to not travel if they were particularly vulnerable etc. I would have been very upset if someone with your illness timeline had attended.
Please stay home.
posted by fies at 7:25 AM on September 13, 2022 [5 favorites]

No. My experience of wakes is that they are crowded indoor affairs. This is just the sort of environment that spreads covid.

The CDC guidance (5 days isolation + 5 days masked) is based on averages and round numbers. It doesn't actually tell you whether you are still infectious. You could easily have an above-average length infectivity period. Rapid tests, as far as I know, are also not specifically designed to measure infectivity.

Find some other way to support your friend and their family. Don't take the chance of spreading covid to this group.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 7:31 AM on September 13, 2022 [3 favorites]

If it were me, I would not go if I were still testing positive on Friday and Saturday. A close family member died earlier this year and one of my family members who attended the wake and funeral had COVID - and then so did several other people. A few ended up in the hospital for several days. Even those who didn't catch COVID had to take precautions, including my mother who had to self-isolate for a few days instead of being able to return to my father's side while he was recovering from chemotherapy. A family friend who was not feeling well did not attend the wake or the funeral mass but she was at the outdoor, graveside portion of the funeral; she stood away from others and was masked and we very much appreciated her being there and being considerate of everyone's health.

It really sucks to not physically be there in the moment for your loved ones but you can be there for them in other ways and at other times.
posted by ElKevbo at 9:19 AM on September 14, 2022 [2 favorites]

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