1 out of 10,000: how this Quebec family is grieving their loss as the pandemic continues

A “very happy, passionate person.” A woman who had a great “joie de vivre” and “a spring in her step.”

That's how family remembers Lise Verret Cregheur, a beloved mother who died in April, a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Mom was doing very well... Yes, she had a walker, but you should have seen her move with the walker,” remembered her daughter, Marjorie Rowe-Callisto. “I know that a lot of them still had many good, quality years in them.”

Cregheur is just one of over 10,000 Quebecers who lost their life to the virus.

“It feels surreal to me that we have that many deaths in Quebec,” said Rowe-Callisto.

Cregheur was one of the first in Laval's Val des Arbres long-term care home to contract the virus. She died on April 15 at age 74, just days before the military arrived to help with the outbreak. Rowe-Callisto and her sister, Corinne Rowe, said they're grateful for the treatment their mom received in her final days, as nurses helped to facilitate conversations.

“She would talk on the phone and then I would be on my phone,” said Rowe. “We would be talking to each other through the window.”

Her daughters couldn't be with Cregheur when she died and a funeral still hasn't been held.

“It hasn't been possible and it hasn't been possible for 10,000 families, for the most part,” said Rowe-Callisto. “People have had to settle. In our case, there is no closure.”

Like Cregheur, the majority of Quebec's COVID-19 victims were seniors at the onset of the pandemic. But that has since changed, said cardiologist and epidemiologist Christopher Labos.

“Pretty much no one is spared,” he said. “Older patients are clearly at higher risk, that's a given. But even young people have gotten sick.”

Quebec remains the province with the highest death toll.

“We were always having 100 cases per day, even during the summer, when I think many people were lulled into a false sense of security,” said Labos. “We've always had more circulating virus and the more circulating virus you have, the more people get sick.”

As Quebec continues to battle the epidemic, thousands of families continue to grieve for what they've lost.

“Mom is one of nine children and she's the third youngest. She's the first one to die,” said Rowe. “My whole family is grieving across Canada.” 

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