Heart-Rending Stories

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I’ve been sent a harrowing story by a reader who works for a cancer charity.

I don’t know if this story is helpful to you at all, but I work for a national cancer charity answering support calls. I had an extremely distressing call the other week from an 90 year-old lady whose 69 year-old daughter who was in a hospice due to her advanced cancer.

The lady told me that she hadn’t seen her daughter for months – since lockdown was imposed – and knowing her daughter didn’t have long left she drove to the hospice, desperate to see her, only to be refused at the front door. Worse still, she said she was verbally reprimanded by the manager for trying to come in and told that she was putting herself and everyone else at risk.

Her daughter died a few days later. She never got to say her goodbyes….

On the phone to me, the lady was emotionally distraught, crying inconsolably. She also told me that she lives alone and had been self-isolating herself since February, which she has really struggled with as well. I have been supporting cancer patients for many years and never been lost for words, but on this occasion I was. I just felt so angry inside.

The prevention of people being able to say goodbye to their loved ones is, for me, one of the most shockingly under-covered stories throughout this whole lockdown. I’m sure this is not a one off….

And another reader sent me this story. Pretty awful, too.

I have a rather depressing story told to me by a close friend.

Her grandmother died in hospital at the start of lockdown and sadly, having tested positive for COVID-19 and locked in a Covid ward, she was not able to see her family in her final days. As it happens, the cause of death was certainly not Covid as she had been struggling with cancer for some time.

Upon trying to recover the grandmother’s belongings, however, my friend’s family were told that they were missing. The items’ total value was a sizeable four-figure sum as she had been wearing her jewellery at the time of her death. After months of wrangling with the hospitals and fears the items had been stolen, they finally received a concrete response.

The hospital said that at the time of the grandmother’s death, guidance for dealing with Covid patients’ property had not been set up, leading to large build-ups of personal property at the hospital. When guidance did materialise it stated that personal clothing (at the time, it has since changed), were to be disposed of. The hospital admitted that the likely outcome was that, due to the pressure the hospital was facing, the grandmother’s jewellery had been disposed of by mistake along with her clothing.

Of course, this caused great distress to the family in question and it has led me to wonder how many families were similarly affected. It is not inconceivable that due to this absurd guidance, the total value of patients’ lost items could be millions of pounds, and many deeply saddened families.

This whole saga seems typical of the whole national response to Covid, where an easily sterilisable item, such as an engagement ring, is thrown aside in the name of irrational Covid responses. I feel that stories and scandals like these are going to continue surfacing for months to come.