A Co Tyrone nurse who could not be with her husband as he passed away last week from Covid-19 in the Enniskillen hospital where she works has revealed how her colleagues placed a mobile phone on his chest, allowing her to be there for his final moments.
Poultry farmer Declan Grimes (61) from Carrickmore died last Wednesday in the South West Acute Hospital, where he had spent almost a month on a ventilator in intensive care.
His grieving wife Sheila, who works at the hospital, and her family had to listen as Fr Sean O'Neill gave the last rites over the phone to the man she had been with for over 40 years.
She was not allowed to see him or hold his hand as he died. Instead, her colleagues placed cherished photographs on his chest, having regularly placed a mobile phone to his ear so he could hear the voice of his beloved wife and children.
On Facebook Mrs Grimes paid tribute to her Fermanagh colleagues, writing: "They truly are second to none; they kept us fully informed at all times, they prayed with us, they cried with us, they became Declan's family as we could not be with him and they did everything humanly possible for Declan."
Speaking to UTV's Gareth Wilkinson, Mrs Grimes described her husband as a "really, really good person who was funny, witty and kind".
"We live away in the country, you'd never think the coronavirus would come here, would you?" she said, with her daughter Eimear, a paramedic, standing by her side.
Mr Grimes, who was well-known in the Tyrone area, was admitted to hospital after displaying coronavirus symptoms but his wife could not be at his side.
"In his final moments… the nurses… they put the phone onto Declan's chest… they put our photographs all around him, we were able to be on the phone to him as he passed into eternal life," explained Mrs Grimes.
Mr Grimes was also a father of Declan Og, Ruari, Connor, Niall, Enda and baby Liam who predeceased him, and a brother of Desmond, Kieran, Geraldine (Kearns) and Aiden.