The Last Responders
ABOUT THIS SERIES
Along with provoking a pandemic, COVID-19 has triggered a grief epidemic. It has robbed families of final goodbyes, left loved ones to die with strangers, postponed wakes and funerals. And it has overwhelmed Maine’s “Last Responders,” priests, chaplains, funeral directors and hospice workers who must work around restrictions aimed at diminishing virus infections. The Maine Monitor takes readers on an emotional journey into the lives of families who have lost loved ones and the Last Responders who must find new ways to console and comfort.
The coronavirus pandemic’s last responders – Maine’s priests, chaplains, funeral directors and hospice workers − say the highly infectious virus has upended how they do their jobs. Barred from entering most hospitals and long-term living facilities, chaplains and priests must offer comfort, consolation and prayers electronically. Families are robbed of a final goodbye, and those who are dying of COVID − or any other illness in a confined setting – must die with strangers while longing for the touch of a loved one.
A pastor and his wife, both suffering from COVID-19, were together through the final moments of a half-century marriage because of the efforts of a loving doctor and a do-what-it-takes Houlton hospital.
After battling pancreatic cancer for 18 months, Ken Clark fell ill with COVID-19. At a central Maine hospital, his family fought to be by his side during his final moments.
Unable to be by their dying mother’s bedside due to coronavirus restrictions, a family gathers on Zoom to tell their mother they loved her.
A journalist can’t help but think of her father’s death as she writes and reports on dying during the coronavirus pandemic.
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