"To get that call was one of the worst moments of my life" Aylesbury family bravely share the reality of coronavirus loss

A devastated daughter has shared her heartache at not being able to comfort her grieving mother as her stepfather died of Coronavirus.

Monday, 1st June 2020, 11:10 am
Douglas Warden died aged 85 at Stoke Mandeville Hospital

Samantha Davies, from Stoke Mandeville had to watch her stepfather’s funeral through a webcast in an empty room, without a eulogy or reading.

Her stepfather Douglas Warden died aged 75 at Stoke Mandeville Hospital after a long battle with vascular dementia.

Samantha said the whole situation was heartbreaking and the family have been left unable to grieve because of lockdown legislation and social distancing measures.

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(LtoR) Samantha's mum, her son and Doug

Samantha said: “Douglas had been in and out of hospital because he had vascular dementia. He had been in hospital since February because of complications with his condition.

“He was declared medically fit, however he couldn’t return home because his dementia had progressed.”

Douglas remained in hospital while the health authorities tried to find a place suitable for him to stay.

He eventually was admitted to the Whiteleaf Hospital while they did a specialist assessment to locate a care home suited for dementia patients.

In late March, he was rushed to A&E at Stoke Mandeville because of an infection, and at some point during this time he contracted Coronavirus.

Having tested positive for Covid-19 in hospital he was released back to Whiteleaf on March 31, after doctors told the family his symptoms were very mild.

However, on the first of April the family received a call nobody wants to receive.

They were told he had only hours to live.

Samantha rushed to the hospital on behalf of her mother as she was shielding because of health conditions, and the fact that her mother was living with her son and his pregnant girlfriend at the time and who fall in the ‘high risk category’.

She continued: “To get that call, was one of the worst moments of my life.

“I rushed over in full PPE to bid him goodbye.

“To top things off I had to video call my mum so she could speak to watch her husband pass away in the most horrible way imaginable.

“Douglas passed away on April 9. I am so sick of 2020 because one of my good friends had passed away earlier in the month of cancer. It’s been a horrendous year.”

The family were not allowed to see his body.

The whole family have been unable to grieve together, as Samantha’s brother Steven's partner Katherine is pregnant so they are shielding because of being in the high risk coronavirus category.

To make matters so much worse, they had to watch the funeral via a webcast.

Samantha said: “That period of time during the lockdown the majority of the funerals had no attendance.

“The whole experience was just so horrible. The webcast had gone down the night before and was extremely temperamental.

“My brother was so close to cancelling the funeral and the live stream was dead up until two minutes before the funeral.

“We weren’t even allowed to have a priest there for a reading. We just watched a room full of empty chairs, while three songs played on the loudspeaker.

“No reading, no poems. No celebration of a man’s life. It was horrendous.

“Just a picture of an empty room with a coffin.

“My youngest son simply said - ‘what was that, that’s not how a funeral is supposed to be’.

“It was no way to say goodbye to a father.”

Samantha said the lockdown rules and social distancing guidance have prevented the family grieving as a unit.

“Usually we’d be there for each other. My mum only lives in Pitstone, me in Stoke Mandeville. It’s not far but I feel a lifetime apart from her.

“I can’t hug her, reassure her or kiss her. We can’t grieve together, we can’t gather our thoughts. It’s all over WhatsApp and Facetime.

“We should have been at a wake, drinking and toasting the life of the man and what a pain in the arse he was. All the good memories.

“The whole experience has been so upsetting. So difficult to comprehend.”

The family added they were absolutely furious with Prime Minister Boris Johnson for his refusal to even get special advisor Dominic Cummings to apologise to the public who have been abiding by the government advice.

She added: "An apology would have gone a long way and saved some face for stretching the lockdown rules."