Both my parents died

My mother died in April. She suddenly became very confused, fell several times, was breathless. It was at the height of the first wave of covid, and my sister and I weren’t able to visit as often as usual to help, due to restrictions.
My poor dad therefore had less help than usual too.
Looking back at her symptoms, I think mum had covid. She died within 5 days of going to hospital. She wasn’t tested, so although we hadn’t been allowed to visit initially, we were at least able to be with her when she died.

The day after she died, dad became more confused.
We thought it might be the effects of shock, grief, exhaustion, and we supported him. Within 5 days he was in hospital too, confused, but nobody sure why.

He was so agitated he wouldn’t let nurses near him, wouldn’t accept treatment, so despite their rules of no visiting they allowed us to take turns of several hours to come in one day to see if he could settle for us and accept some treatment, food, fluid.
He was more settled with us, but he didn’t know who we were, had no idea why we were trying to help him.
We asked for a covid swab as he was coughing. It came back positive so we weren’t allowed to see him again.

It was another week before he died. A week of hearing how confused and agitated he was while we prepared for mums funeral. She was cremated on the Saturday. Restrictions for us at the time meant only myself, my sister and nephew could be present. Dad was too unwell to take part in any way.
The following day, the hospital phoned to say dad was dying. If we went we would not be allowed in the room with him. We would also be exposing ourselves to covid entering the ward. We decided we couldn’t do it. He wouldn’t know we were there, we had cremated mum the day before, we didn’t want either of us to become unwell next. It was too much.

Dad didn’t die until the Tuesday. None of us were with him. He’d been so confused, agitated and alone.
His cremation was the same small affair because of the restrictions. Same coffin, same flowers, same minister, same mourners, just 2 weeks apart.

It’s been 7 months and life has a way of pushing you along. I got back to work after a month or so, and I carry on.
I still feel bad about not being with dad when he died, although I know he wouldn’t have known if I’d gone to watch from outside the room, and that I never set the rules around visiting or funerals etc.

Covid feels a particularly cruel way to lose loved ones.
I’m still shocked they both went so quickly, and so close together. I still think of them every day. I often cry. And every now and then, something happens that makes me wobble a bit more than usual, like a birthday, or Christmas coming up.

I graduated last week. They would have been proud, but they’re not here to tell about it.

Dear Bee,

I am so sorry that you and your sister lost both your parents so suddenly and in such a short time. Reading your story, I can see how much you oved them and wanted to be there for them, and you would have been, right until the end if it had not been for Covid.

A lot of decisions were taken out of your hands and you did the best you could under the circumstances. I don’t think you should feel bad about it. Maybe when this pandemic is over, you and your sister can organise a memorial service or event where you can do what you would have liked to do at their cremations but were unable to.

I hope that as time goes on, the memories of those last few weeks will fade and you will be able to have memories of happy times you had with them. I lost both my parents a few years ago, and my mother-in-law only 2 weeks ago, and grief has a way of coming in waves. As you say, there are often things that bring back the tears, even something as simple as being in a shop and seeing Christmas cards that say ‘for mum and dad’. Your graduation must have been a mixture of emotions, because it is at times like that we miss our parents so much.

It’s good that you have come to this site. I hope you will comfort in reading others people’s posts and replies. If you type ‘Covid’ in the search option you will find many posts of people who, like you, have lost loved ones due to Covid and who will understand what you are going through.

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