British Columbia

She lost her mother to COVID-19. Now, she is urging British Columbians to help stop the spread

Teresa Comey is hoping the death of her 89-year-old mother — and her family's inability to mourn her death together — will act as a wake-up call for anyone ignoring social distancing rules.

People ignoring social distancing rules are 'so selfish,' says Teresa Comey

Beverley Kellett, pictured with her husband, Ron, was a resident of a North Vancouver care home, where a coronavirus outbreak has taken several lives, including hers on March 20. (Submitted by Teresa Comey)

Teresa Comey wants to get her loved ones together to mourn her mother's death, but she can't.

She wishes she could throw her arms around her grieving father, but she can't do that, either.

What she can do, though, is tell British Columbians to do everything they can to make sure they don't suffer as her family has.

Comey's mother, 89-year-old Beverley Kellett, was a resident of the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver, B.C., and died on Friday of COVID-19.

Thirteen people in B.C. have now died of the disease, including 10 connected to the outbreak at the care centre where Kellett lived. As of Monday morning, there were 472 confirmed cases of the virus in the province.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has ordered people to stay in their homes and keep their distance from each other to prevent the coronavirus that causes the disease from spreading further. 

Comey, who is currently waiting for test results to find out if she herself is infected, is hoping her story will act as a wake-up call for anyone ignoring what is potentially life-or-death advice.

"Unless you have been touched humanly by this, you might not get this," Comey said Monday on CBC's The Early Edition. "We have an obligation as individuals to follow the directions that have been given to us by Bonnie Henry."

Beverley Kellett, front, with her daughters, Teresa Comey, in yellow, and Kathy Jarvis, in the grey sweater. (Submitted by Teresa Comey)

Large gatherings are 'so selfish'

Comey said it pains her and her family to hear people say they are not worried about COVID-19, or to hear stories of people gathering in large groups and not social distancing.

"That is so self-focused and so selfish," said Comey. "Every single one of us is part of the story of what happens going forward."

Comey does not want her story to be anyone else's.

She said it feels like she is living frozen in time, stuck in isolation, unable to comfort her 89-year-old father, who lives in a suite off Comey's Deep Cove house that she cannot enter for fear of infecting him.

Comey said her father started a calendar when his wife went into care and wrote down who was visiting her every day. 

Now, she says, he is struggling with depression and loneliness. Deprived of hugs, he and Comey can only comfort each other by speaking metres apart. She said she has been sitting on her patio and trying to console him from a safe distance. 

"Normally you come together as family when someone dies. We can't do that," said Comey. "It's a very strange way to lose somebody."

If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at impact@cbc.ca.  

With files from The Early Edition

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.