University of Lincoln postgraduate student Rebekah Leggatt’s world changed when those close to her were infected with COVID-19.
Rebekah’s grandfather, John Owen, learned his wife of over twenty years, Annette, was diagnosed with COVID-19.
Annette was sixty-one years old and had severe asthma. A severe asthma attack landed her in the hospital, and eventually she contracted COVID-19. She was discharged to free up a hospital bed, but was back three days later on 7 April, now in the COVID-19 ward.
Just a day after his 75th birthday, on 10 April the nurses called John, telling him he needed to say his goodbyes to his second wife.
John was told to self-isolate after showing the same symptoms his wife had shown.
“The hospital won’t test John for a test confirmation of COVID-19, but said because of how contagious the virus is, he definitely has it and needed to self-isolate at home,” said Rebekah.
But for John, there was the struggle of attending his wife’s funeral.
“At first, John was told that he wasn’t allowed to attend his wife’s funeral because he was self-isolating. However, after pleading, they allowed him to go but he had to wear a visor, gloves and apron and had to sit on a bench alone. Only six members of the family were allowed to attend the funeral, therefore the rest of us just had to talk to the six to see how it went,” said Rebekah.
“There was no hugging allowed, no way to comfort him. As soon as the fifteen-minute ceremony was over, they were ‘shoo’ed away by the crematorium as they needed to get ready for the next ceremony.”
For Rebekah and the rest of her family, this has been a difficult journey.
“The hardest part of the isolation is not being able to give him a hug. My Nanna (his first wife), died of a rare and aggressive cancer in three days and sadly passed away on Valentine’s day years before I was born. The family knew how he would cope by himself with the first death, this leads us to stress about how he deals with the second. The most we can do is travel to his house while trying not to get stopped by the police, to talk to him from the garden and him in the window.”
“Our Grandfather is the head of the family, and catching the virus at his age has made us all stress so much as to whether we’ll lose him too,” said Rebekah.
Rebekah knows most are taking COVID-19 seriously, but there are still those who don’t.
“To miss a family member’s funeral, and to not be able to celebrate her life and remember the good times, we’re pulled into a phase mixed with grief and depression and worthlessness, because we can’t do anything about it,” said Rebekah.
“We could still lose [John], and I could lose my last grandparent. We’re still in the fight, but we feel like my grandfather’s given up because he knows he won’t find anyone else before he dies. Annette died with a stranger, a nurse holding her hand just so that she wasn’t alone.”
At the time of publication, there are over three million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the world, 162,350 of those being from the United Kingdom. There are currently close to 22,000 COVID-19 deaths in the United Kingdom.