Grand Rapids couple dies 1 minute apart from COVID-19

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Posted at 10:42 AM, Sep 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-28 08:04:57-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Sarah Dunham says her parents Cal and Linda Dunham did everything together. The churchgoing, community-minded outdoor enthusiasts loved their family – especially their grandchildren – and most of all, each other.

“The love that they found together after a previous marriage is fantastic,” said Sarah. “They were the people that you just looked at and you were like, ‘I want to be old like that, I want that love when I’m that age.’”

The pair were also cautious when it came to COVID-19. They were both fully vaccinated and had been for months when, during a family camping trip this month, they began to feel sick.

“[My dad] called me before our family camping trip and said he wasn’t feeling good but he thinks it’s just like sinus, and [Linda] caught it and she’s like, he gave me his cold,” said Sarah. “The third day they woke me up and said, ‘we’ve got to go because we don’t feel well.’ So I packed them all up and they left.”

Days later, the couple was hospitalized and on ventilators – both had preexisting conditions that made things even more dire. By this past Sunday, doctors were telling Sarah and the family there wasn’t much more they could do, and the couple would likely need to come off life-support Monday.

“They had other plans,” said Sarah. “It was Sunday and dad’s like, ‘you know what? This is what we’re going to do today.’”

After being wheeled into the same room, moments later, Cal passed away at 11:07 a.m.

At 11:08 a.m., less than a minute later, Linda passed away as well as the couple held hands in hospital beds beside one another.

“She always joked and said ‘well, you’re going to go before I am, I’ll be right there behind you, I promise.’ And she really was, like she really was right there behind him.”

Sarah takes some solace in knowing that just as in life, her parents were together in death too. But now, she says anger is setting in; anger over the knowing that people aren’t taking the virus that claimed both of her parents in a mere 60-seconds as seriously as they should.

“I’m angry because so many people are like, ‘if I catch COVID, I catch COVID that’s what it is.’ No, it’s not,” said Sarah. “It could be any person; it could be anybody. They did everything right, they did everything to protocol the way it should be done.”

The family has set up a GoFundMe page for the couple’s funeral expenses. To donate, click here.