Olivia Thompson pictured with her mother Claire who passed away last month.
A Derry woman whose mother died alone because of the coronavirus restrictions has created an online community to reach out to other families who are grieving at this time.
Olivia Thompson said one of the most difficult things about losing a loved one during the pandemic was being denied a normal wake and funeral.
Olivia's mum, Claire Thompson,88, passed away on Sunday April 5 from Parkinsons at Edenballymore Care Home where she was being looked after in the weeks leading up to her death.
The mother of four was known for her beautiful smile which could light up a room and kept smiling to the very end, despite the pain she was in.
Because of coronavirus restrictions Mrs Thompson's family had not been able to visit her since early March, but her children were sent for on Friday April 3 after she became very ill.
"Mammy took really unwell and myself my brother and sister were allowed to see her for 45 minutes each wearing the protective apron and mask," explained Olivia.
"On the Saturday she deteriorated even more and then they let the three of us in together that night and we video called my sister in Scotland so mammy could hear her voice too. "Because of the current situation of covid 19 we couldn't stay with mammy all night, so on the Sunday morning my sister phoned to see how mammy was and they said she was comfortable.
"We then got the phone call about 11am to say mammy had passed away."
Olivia said she and her siblings were heartbroken they couldn't be with their mum in her final moments.
"I can't describe the awful numb feeling that came over my body to know my mammy was on her own when she died," she said,
"I didn't get to hold her hand, to tell her not to be afraid, to tell her one last time how much I loved her.
"This i will never get out of my head."
Olivia said the family suffered further pain because they couldn't give their mother the send off they wanted.
"At Mammy's wake there wasn't even a priest present because of the lockdown situation.
"At mammys funeral we had to sit two metres apart.
"We couldn't do any readings, we couldn't receive communion, we couldn't carry her coffin out of the chapel- it had to be wheeled out.
"Only so many immediate family were allowed in the chapel and to the cemetery.
"The grief that I was going through and I couldn't even hug my best friend.
"I had to look at her from the distance through the chapel gate.
"I just wanted her to hold me and tell me everything was going to be ok, but i just knew that this couldn't happen."
Last week Olivia set up at Facebook page called 'Losing A Loved One During Lockdown' where people who have been through the same experience can offer each other support.
"The reason why i have set up the wee page is because I know loads of families have lost loved ones and don't have their friends or family to give that much needed hug to or go for a coffee or anything.
"If I could help just one person by my page to reach out and just have someone else to message who is going through the same thing until they get that important hug then it will have done its job.
"When the cemetery was closed over Easter I climbed over the wall and to visit my mammy's grave to leave her a wee Cream Egg.
" I also made a cushion out of my mammy's nightdress, which gives me some comfort at night because i haven't been sleeping well."
Olivia said she will always remember her mother's smile and all their happy times together.
"My song for my mammy was 'You Are My Sunshine' because her smile lit up a room.
"My mammy would always have done a May altar and I have done one in her memory.
"I pray to her that this will all be over soon and no more families will have to go through what we have .
"It angers me when I see videos of people not sticking to the lockdown rules and having house parties when we had to bury my mammy alone."
If you have a story or want to send a photo or video to us please contact the Derry Now editorial team on 028 7129 6600 for Derry City stories Or 028 7774 3970 for County Derry stories. Or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com at any time.
Subscribe or register today to discover more from Derrynow.com
Buy the e-paper of the Derry News and the County Derry Post here for instant access to Derry's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Derry with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.