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'We had to say goodbye to him on Facetime.' Sandra lost her father-in-law to COVID-19.

Want to know what happens when someone you love is diagnosed with COVID-19 and you are living in another country unable to get home to see them?

You get to say your final goodbyes via a hurried Facetime call. That’s it.

Your COVID-19 questions answered by Mamamia’s Claire Murphy. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia

We received that call last week. Hours before our family in Ireland were due to pick up my father in law from an extended stay in hospital after surgery, they received a call and were informed that he had developed a slight cough and as a precaution. They wanted to test him for COVID-19 before they would let him home.

This was our worst nightmare.

The following day we received the call that devastated everyone, he returned a positive result. In the space of 24 hours, our family had gone from the high of thinking he was finally coming home to the realisation that this now might not happen.

My husband got a three minute FaceTime call that day with his father, he was in good form, even reminding him NOT to fly home and waste his money.

“I can’t fly home,” my husband told him. “The Prime Minister isn’t letting anyone fly.”

“Well, this worked out well then,” he replied with a chuckle. As usual, he always had the last laugh.

Amazingly, the following day we were told he was stable and they felt he only had a mild case of the virus. They were hopeful he would be home in two weeks.

24 hours later they reported he had had a temperature overnight but was stable, but an hour later the family were called saying he was now in critical condition, they were to come to the hospital immediately – this is how fast this virus changes.

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The doctor informed our family that they should come to say their goodbyes. The visit was under strict conditions, they could only see him one at a time, had to wear a full hazmat suit, mask, double gloves and absolutely no contact was allowed.

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Sandra's husband and father-in-law. Image: Supplied.

We were able to FaceTime one last time with him, he was on a ventilator, we could tell that there would be no great escape, he was dying and it was now only a matter of time. It was the most emotional thing I have ever had witness, to watch my husband ask his father to keep fighting. They spoke about how proud they were of each other and told one another they loved them.

My distraught mother and sister in law were the only ones allowed in the room as he passed away. Once again, they were in full hazmat suits, unable to touch him, give him a final kiss or my mother in law lay beside him one last time in the bed.

During times like this, you want to grab your loved ones, hug them tight, kiss them and comfort them and not let go. When you are COVID-19 positive, none of these instinctively comforting things are possible. All they could do was comfort each other with words, he passed away peacefully.

 

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???????????? We lost my husband’s father this morning to the Corona virus - the hospital asked that the family please spread the message to please self isolate. Whilst he was in Ireland ???????? the same applies here! We are unable to grieve with our friends and family here in Australia ???????? let alone my husband fly home for the funeral. To provide some perspective I am sharing the following that my sister-in-law @emilyglynnhoman posted to FB ~~~~~~ So still think that corona virus won’t get you? Here’s the real story, my dad was due to leave hospital on Monday after having surgery, (107 days) unfortunately he started to cough and the swabbed him and he was tested positive. When you visit a patient with codid19 only two people can get in. When we got into see my dad you are double gloves and in a hazmat suit, there is no hugging or kissing!! When my dad passed only my mam and I were there, my brothers were sent home. In saying that my two brothers are stuck in Australia and America, not able to get home!! Saying goodbye by FaceTime. We could not kiss my dad or hug him goodbye, you can’t even hug my mother because we are all now to self isolate. I now cannot see my husband or three kids for 2 weeks now, I can’t be there to hug or kiss my own little family. As far as my dads funeral, me my mam and my three brothers will be there only. His grandkids don’t get to say goodbye, his son and daughter in laws don’t get to either. There will be a closed casket, we will not see my dad in again after tonight. My brothers did not see him laid out. We will have no church service, no celebrating his life!! Corona Viris kills!! So the next time you think about letting you kids out to play or think about going to a friends house DONT!!! This virus is real, we are left devastated by all this today. To all who knew my dad we will be having a celebration when this virus has cleared, when his two sons can come home. Please please think twice!! I’m writing this tonight because the nurses in James said people are not talking this serious and they asked us to tell our story so that we just might save lives. ????

A post shared by Sandra Glynn (@sandraglmakeup) on

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The cremation took place two days later, we watched via FaceTime. Again, there were strict social distancing rules in place which meant they were unable to console one another. My mother in law sat alone on a chair, and her three sons and daughter whilst present were standing within two meters of one another around the coffin.

It is something I’ll never forget. There was no eulogy, no loving stories, no grandkids or other family and friends allowed to attend and pay their respects. It was over in 10 minutes.

All of our family are now in self-isolation, away from their families for 14 days, they don’t want to risk infecting any of their loved ones. It means they are grieving alone, without their family or friends able to come to see them as are we here in Australia. It is an impossible situation.

We consider ourselves lucky. We got to say goodbye to my charming father in law Michael Glynn Snr (aka Mick the Moan), taxi man from Dublin, father of six, grandfather of 12, husband to his devoted wife. He was only 78 years old and we would all do anything to get one more laugh, one more birthday, one more Christmas, just one more chat.

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Michael Glynn and his wife. Image: Supplied.
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We are telling this very personal story for the nurses in the hospital that treated my father in law. They asked the family to share their story on social media as they felt that not everybody was taking self-isolation as seriously as they should be in Ireland and it is the same here in Australia.

We cannot put into words how supportive and amazingly brave all of the staff are in hospitals. We have witnessed this first hand. On a daily basis, they are risking infection or infecting their loved ones when they are exposed to increasing numbers of patients. Working long hours, the feeling of helplessness when having to inform families there is nothing they can do, all takes a huge toll on them as well.

Think of them and what they are going through on a daily basis next time you decide to go outside when it is not really essential.

Stay home, practice self-isolation, be kind to one another, there will be plenty of time go out to the beach next summer - providing we stay home now.

Lets collectively flatten the curve.

Read more:

To protect yourself and the community from COVID-19, keep at least 1.5 metres away from other people, regularly wash your hands and avoid touching your face.

If you are sick and believe you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your GP ahead of time to book an appointment. Or call the national Coronavirus Health Information Line for advice on 1800 020 080. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 000. 

To keep up to date with the latest information, please visit the Department of Health website.

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