RENTON, Wash. (CNN/Gray News) - One of the saddest things about COVID-19 is that people are dying from it without a single loved one there for comfort because family and friends can’t come near without the risk of getting sick.
Major Michelle Bennett with the King County Sheriff’s Office in Washington didn’t think she’d be able to say goodbye to her 75-year-old mother, Carolann Gann, before she died. Gann, who had been living at the Issaquah Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, tested positive for coronavirus more than a week ago, KIRO reports.
Bennett and her siblings were forced to say goodbye to their mother from a distance, but the nurses at Swedish Issaquah hospital helped ease the pain.
“Just not being able to be there and hold my mom’s hand, rub her head, tell her the things I wanted to say to her, it was such a helpless feeling,” Bennett told CNN.
On March 26, a charge nurse named Tatyana knew Gann would be dying soon. She got dressed in protective gear and used her personal cell phone to give Bennett the chance to say goodbye over FaceTime.
“She put it right up to my mother’s face, and I could tell my mom I loved her and how much I was going to miss her,” Bennett said. “It was so touching, just to know that I couldn't be there. And I said to the nurse, ‘Can you please hold her hand? Can you rub her head? Can you pretend like we’re there with her?’ She said, ‘She will not be alone. We will stay with her to the end.’”
Bennett says she saw the nurse crying, as she finished talking to her mother. Within an hour of the phone call, Gann died.
“I know how difficult this is for them. I can’t even imagine being on the frontlines of that and having to go home every day and risk infection themselves but then have the compassion and empathy to be right there in that moment, as if it was their own mother,” Bennett said.
Gann spent 38 years as a nurse at Northwest Hospital, Evergreen Hospital and Harborview Medical Center, according to KIRO.
“She helped so many people as an RN on their way home, as they were dying, so to be on the other end of that and have RNs help her, it’s inspiring,” Bennett said.
Bennett says she can’t thank the hospital staff enough for the opportunity to speak to her mother before her death.
“I can’t imagine not having had the opportunity to say goodbye, to say ‘you can pass,’ to say ‘I forgive you, and I love you,’” Bennett told CNN. “I can’t thank them enough. The gratefulness I have is just understated.”