Post by Maureen Pollard, MSW, RSW
It is 2020 and the world is gripped by a relentless pandemic. The news is filled with rising
numbers of confirmed cases, frightening death tolls and slowly increasing numbers of recovered
patients. People are facing orders to stay at home except for essential business to help slow the
spread of covid-19.
If your loved one is coping with a terminal illness right now, the events around the world may
feel distant and surreal as you anticipate losing them. At the same time, you may find yourself
impacted in many ways as you strive to support your loved one and prepare for their death.
The requirement to stay at home may mean that you can’t be with the person who is dying.
Borders are closed and non-essential travel has been cancelled. Long term care facilities,
retirement residences, hospitals and hospices are closed to visitors except for the immediate
family of those who are actively dying. If your loved one contracts covid-19, they can only be
attended by health care professionals wearing adequate personal protective equipment.
It can be agonizing, worrying and waiting while you are unable to be present at the bedside.
This situation is likely to increase the distress you feel, as you anticipate the death.
Firm handshakes and warm hugs are common ways we show care and support to one another
during difficult times. Physical distancing also means that at a time when you most need support
and connection to family and friends, you can’t be with them in person. Except for those who
live in your household, it’s best to stay at least 2 metres apart from others. No handshakes and
These measures are important to slow the spread of covid-19 to be sure, but if you’re preparing
to lose a loved one these circumstances can leave you struggling. There are a few things you