The coronavirus has transformed our lives in ways that we could not have imagined.
When an infectious disease spreads beyond a country’s border it becomes a pandemic.
Unlike many other world crises, a pandemic comes with unique challenges.
Initially, when the World Health Organization (WHO) told the world that a pandemic may be imminent on Jan. 30, 2020, they were not listened to by very many countries.
As a result, by mid-March, the virus had spread worldwide. The coronavirus made its first appearance in Canada on Jan. 25, 2020, when a Toronto man travelled back from Wuhan, China, and became very ill.
Slowly, countries started to listen as the WHO told us to wear masks, practise social distancing and sanitize our hands and surfaces – the new normal.
We had to learn to change how we did everything – grocery shopping, getting married, visiting the doctor via Zoom or phone, and so much more.
All relationships felt like they became fragmented.
Seniors in long-term care homes or any other care facility became isolated from family and many died.
It has been a challenging time.
Let me introduce you to Michele. She and her parents were impacted by COVID-19 in both a negative and positive way.
Michele’s mom, Carol, became ill in December 2016 and was told by doctors that she had a short time to live. So Michele moved from Montreal, where she had been living and working, back to B.C., moving in with her parents to help.
Carol’s plan was to go into hospice for the final days of her life.
Much to the delight of her family and friends, she lived much longer than expected.
But by 2020, it became apparent that Carol would not live much longer and the decision to access hospice services had changed, as COVID-19 was now part of that decision.
Hospice only allowed one person per visit due to the pandemic.
So,the decision was made to look after Carol at home so that she could be surrounded by family.
Michele shared that Interior Health was wonderful in providing nursing care, equipment and was on call for them whenever they needed, and their questions were answered.
Michele feels that in a convoluted way, COVID-19 encouraged a closer relationship with both her parents than she previously had, due to the physical distance between them.
It took her past just “being” with them and moved her on to the “caring and doing” level, which she feels gave her a more profoundly personal connection than if Carol had been looked after at hospice.
Staying at home also allowed close friends to visit in her final weeks – something that was very important to Carol.
Carol passed peacefully on July 20, 2020, with her husband and daughter Michele by her side.
Carol left this world having had visits from friends, being cared for by family members and compassionate nursing care during the final week.
Michele created a beautiful digital tribute to her mom and was able to share it with friends and family online.
Carole Fawcett is a retired counsellor and freelance writer. Behind the Mask is a series that takes a look at some of the hardships, achievements and unintended consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. See more of her work online at wordaffair.com. If you have a pandemic story to share, please contact me at email@example.com.