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The Truth About Losing Someone During This Pandemic

My grandfather passed away from the coronavirus on May 2, 2020. My grandmother had called me and told me that he had fallen over and to get some assistance a week prior.

When I had gotten there, my grandfather was on the floor and struggling to breathe. I held his hand as my husband called the paramedics. My grandfather was 82 and had multiple underlying health conditions, including heart failure. At that moment, I didn’t even think it could be the coronavirus. Not because I was ignorant of the fact, but because it didn’t feel like it would hit me or someone I loved. 

My grandfather tested positive for COVID-19 within 24 hours of his visit.

Each day he was there, I called and tried to get as many updates as I could from the nurse. At first, his condition was better. No one in my family was allowed to visit. My sister was able to face-time my grandfather for a few minutes to tell him that she loves him. Hospitals are strict with no visitors, and even allowing for facetime was a stretch. My grandfather was admitted into the ICU quickly after. 

When his condition declined, the doctors called to allow my family to say goodbye before he passed. This is the part you might not know. When a COVID victim is dying, you can’t even go into the room to hold their hand for the last time. If you are lucky, you will be allowed outside the room to see them one last time. My sister and I were fortunate that we were allowed at that time.

My hands were shaking as I stood outside the glass door, looking over at my frail grandfather, and knowing this is the last time I will see him. The hardest part was I had to keep six feet away from my own sister and couldn’t even comfort her as she wept next to me. The nurse handed me tissues as I said my goodbyes and told my grandfather how much I loved him. I felt like he held on a little longer for me and my sister because he waved goodbye to us. 

This virus takes away the most human aspect of losing someone – being able to hold, touch, and be in their presence.

The truth is, I didn’t think I would have to be writing this.

I didn’t think my grandfather would be a statistic.

The pain is unbearable, and I’ve been through deep loss before.

There is no way to prepare for what it’s like to lose someone during this pandemic because these aren’t normal times. My grandfather was a fearless person. He was unique in his learning style. When I was a kid and learning how to swim, he threw me in the pool, and I started swimming. He told me I can do anything I want to, and he taught me to not be afraid of the unknown. He always took my sister and me to the park as kids, and instead of hovering over us, he gave us space to grow and play. He always treated my sister and I like we were adults and capable, even from an early age. 

My story is one of so many. My heart goes out to everyone deeply affected by this. I am with you and one of you. I cry with you. 

There is no advice, tips, or words to make the pain any less heavy. Lean into your connections, delegate tasks, and feel everything. Take this time to tell the people in your life how much you love them. Don’t take anything for granted. Cherish every moment you get with the people that are close to you. 

My grandfather believed in living his life to the fullest and not being afraid. I wanted to pass that message on to all of you. Live your life without second-guessing your decisions and lean into the unknown because all you have is today. 

This article is dedicated to my fearless grandfather, who taught me to swim before I was ready to even dip my feet in the water. His courage, fearlessness, and zest for life will never be forgotten.