In the office of the social worker at an internal medicine ward at the Ichilov Medical Center in Tel Aviv, Samir Agayev was having difficulty maintaining his composure.
Overwhelmed by sadness, Agayev had come to the ward to bid his grandmother a final farewell. She had been struck down by COVID-19 and after a month-long battle, was taking her final breaths.
"Every minute counts," Agayev said, "but I don't know what I will say to her and what I will ask her? Perhaps I will ask what message she has for anyone in the family."
Yevgenia Gavrielov had no symptoms when she was first hospitalized with the virus, but had since become gravely ill.
Agayev was able to see his grandmother before she died after the hospital took the brave decision to allow family members access to the coronavirus ward to see their loved ones one last time. It is a move not without controversy.
After donning protective gear, and moments before he was allowed near his grandmother's bed, Agayev tried to remain optimistic.
"I am still hopeful although I understand she is very weak," he said.
"She has been in the hospital for a long time and must be emotionally wiped out as well."
Agayev was always very close to his grandmother.
"We talk every day," he said. "She worries about me and my family and I just want to show her the same love. I love her; she is like a mother to me."
Despite being in protective gear Agayev was somewhat concerned about contamination but was determined to see his grandmother.
She recognized him right away and though she was weak, seemed very happy to see him.
"Is nothing making you feel better?" he asked holding on to her hand. He never let go of the hand for the entire time he was there.
She did not seem to hear the question. He repeated it and then she said, "my lungs don't work."
Later Agayev said, "you must think of yourself now, just think of yourself. Everything will be fine grandma."
Saying goodbye was hard. As he walked away, Agayev turned for one more look at his grandmother. He waved and she waved back.
"She understands everything, and feels everything," he said.
I don't want my patients to die alone," said Dr. Howard Oster, the head of the ward.
"The families agree. It is very important to allow this moment for both," he said.
"Sometimes the patient is too sick and can no longer communicate, but may be able to hear and understand. This is a very terrible disease and patients are often on their own inside the ward."
With gratitude to the Agayev family