Winnipeg woman opens up after losing both parents during COVID-19 pandemic
WINNIPEG -- A Winnipeg woman is still reeling after the deaths of both of her parents during the pandemic.
Jenn Lambert’s mother, Elizabeth Olah, passed away at the age of 80 in November from COVID-19.
Late last year, while in assisted living, Elizabeth became ill with what was thought of as a cold at first.
“We took her to be tested a few days into her symptoms and got her results November 7th,” Lambert said.
Elizabeth passed away from COVID-19 while on a ventilator two days later, with her family by her side.
“I live with that image every day,” Jenn said. “I needed to be with my mom and I needed to see her and let her know it was okay to let go, but it's horrible."
Lambert added, "For people that don’t think COVID is real, I would challenge them to look at a picture of my mom on a ventilator, and tell me that it’s not real because it’s horrific and I think about that image every day.”
The death of Elizabeth was not the only death in the family she experienced in 2020. Her father, Frank Olah, died in May.
Frank Olah’s official cause of death was heart failure, but Lambert said the pandemic may have exacerbated it.
“If he would go anywhere, he'd have to isolate. That really wore on him,” Lambert said during a recent interview. “And he wasn't up and about as much as normal and his heart failure just progressed a lot further than it might normally have.”
Winnipeg epidemiologist Cynthia Carr said research is already underway into excess mortality during the pandemic, and what could account for it.
“The question is, are some of those undiagnosed COVID-19 deaths? Are some of them the result of isolation, loneliness, or a lack of access to health care to manage chronic conditions?” Carr said.
Lambert is still feeling the pain of losing both of her parents, but is working through it. During the pandemic she adopted a new puppy, a Border Collie mix a rescue group set aside when they learned of her loss.
“He’s really brought us a lot of joy,” she said.