One of the many grim aspects of dying of Covid-19 is the isolation people face at the end. Unable to let visitors be in physical proximity, patients can only see or speak to relatives through a screen to say their final goodbyes.
An image that highlights this has been shared on social media recently, reportedly taken by a palliative care doctor.
The stark image shows iPads on stands ready to be taken to patients on end of life care so that they can communicate with their loved ones. People have been sharing stories of those who have had to say goodbye in this way.
"On Monday my boyfriend said goodbye to his mother on an iPad," one person wrote on Twitter. "He didn’t get one last hug or simply hold her hand. He sat behind glass & held an iPad to try and prevent doing the same goodbye with his elderly father. I have rage. I can’t even be sad yet because I’m just so angry."
"Did the same with my mother Thanksgiving Day," another added. "The pain of losing her is almost unbearable and it was so unnecessary. #justwearthedamnmask".
"For everyone complaining about having to watch movies from home, these are the last screens many people will see," actor and filmmaker Alex Winter posted. "Please stay home if possible, wear a mask and take the pandemic seriously. We're not out of the woods and a vaccine is not around the corner just yet."
Several people suggested that showing the public the reality inside hospitals might prompt people to take social distancing and mask measures more seriously, or at least to not visit too many people during the holiday season and risk the spread of the disease. Several cited the effect showing funeral caskets during the Vietnam War had on public opinion. Though popular as an idea, doctors had their concerns.
"We can’t show you around due to patient privacy," Ether Choo MD wrote on Twitter. "But if you can’t get the picture from this we can’t help you."
Though the first vaccines are now coming to market – a woman in the UK was the first person to have the vaccine in the world today – the photo is a reminder that the situation is still dire in many countries around the world. So far the US has seen over 290,000 deaths since the pandemic began. If you'd like to donate money towards supplying iPads to hospitals, which have seen shortages of the equipment, you can do so here.