Dying in a pandemic
"Death is the one thing that's inevitable; it's inescapable from the whole of humanity."
It has been hard to avoid talk about death this past year, but so many people do not know how to prepare for it. When Mohammed and David watched their mothers go into hospital during the pandemic, they found it hard to cope with the fact that they would die alone.
Like millions of people across the UK, when Mohammed’s mother, Rukeya, was taken into hospital with COVID-19, he was suddenly faced with the prospect of her dying alone. Mohammed and his family were devastated.
As a Muslim, to be at your loved one’s side when they die is crucial, and he couldn’t bear the thought of not witnessing her last words and breaths. After five days without communication, Mohammed, with the help of staff inside the hospital, was able to set up an iPad so the entire family – in the UK and abroad – could be by his mother’s side, virtually.
“There was a moment where she was truly at peace, seeing her expression through the screen." Mohammed says. “I can only describe it as a beautiful experience.”
“In the Islamic community, death isn't really a taboo. We're reminded about death five times a day.”
“We had frank and open conversations. We knew my mother’s last wishes.”
When David’s mother went into the hospital, he knew she was coming to the end of her life. Due to the rapidly changing nature of the pandemic, no one knew how long she would have left or whether she would be able to see her family. In the week that she died, there were around 380 COVID admissions in her hospital alone.
It was difficult for David not to be able to visit his mum, but he was able to speak to her via phone and an iPad. Having helped organise his father’s funeral previously, David was able to sort out the practical side of his mother’s funeral, but it was small due to COVID restrictions.
David says, “When the when the weather clears off a bit, and we're clear the restrictions limited, we'll have a party and celebrate her life in the village here. In the not too distant future."