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“Our whole nursing unit looked forward to hearing him sing to her.”

Hands clasped.
By Isabella Park

Forest Hills, NY
United States

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the families of patients in nursing homes have been unable to visit their loved ones. For many patients, this changed their daily routines on which they were fragilely dependent.

In my work, I met one devoted couple of 67 years who were separated for nearly two months; the effects were devastating to them both. The wife, Mrs. M., who lived at a nursing home, was left without her husband who typically visited her daily, fed her, sang her favorite songs, combed her hair, and kept her company.

When her husband’s visits stopped, Mrs. M. quickly declined cognitively and functionally. Unfortunately, she also contracted COVID-19.

When this lovely 90-year-old woman was admitted to our hospital, despite the treatment that was available, she was dying. Her husband was heartbroken — especially because he couldn’t come to “give her kisses.”

For a week and a half before Mrs. M. died, I made sure her husband could FaceTime daily with her to sing her favorite songs: “Sweet Caroline,” “Spanish Eyes,” and “Unforgettable.” Our whole nursing unit looked forward to hearing him sing to her. When she passed, we were so sad we would no longer hear his strong tenor voice.

Although Mrs. M. succumbed to COVID-19, the two months of separation leading up to her death were the most heart-wrenching time for her and her husband.

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