Family loses four grandparents to virus
A family is mourning after losing all four grandparents to coronavirus.
Brothers Kevin Luwel, 33, and Kenneth, 28, from Belgium, barely had time to grieve the loss of their first grandfather dying before all of their grandparents had died from COVID-19.
"When we lost the first one, we were of course sad, but it really hit us when we lost the second one," Kevin Luwel told CEN. "When it happened a third time, it became incomprehensible.
"But now with the fourth death is just too much. Too much too fast."
Mr Luwel said the family's lives and gatherings revolved around their beloved grandparents.
"They were completely part of family life, we had so many great family celebrations with our grandparents. They were at my wedding two months ago," Mr Luwel said.
Both sets of grandparents lived in the town of Rummen in the Geetbets municipality of Flemish Brabant in the country's northeast. He said they suffered from the "occasional illness" but nothing unexpected outside of their age group.
Their grandpa Eduard "Warke" Luwel, 86, was the first to fall ill with coronavirus. He contracted the illness despite the family implementing a lockdown and refusing guests and visitors.
The lockdowns had been distressing for the grandparents who "lived for" for their visits from their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Grandpa Warke died on March 31, soon after he first showed symptoms.
Warke's wife, Jacqueline Cuypers, 80, was the next to fall ill with the virus. Shortly after being told about her husband's death, the hospital called her and told her she'd also been infected.
She was quickly admitted to hospital because of problems with her oxygen levels. He said her death was "hell" for the family who weren't able to be with her in her final days.
"There she was alone in her room, fighting for her life, while she had to deal with her husband's death," Mr Luwel said of her lonely stay in hospital.
He said he felt certain Grandma Cuypers would survive the virus. But sadly, she died on her ninth day in hospital.
Mr Luwel said as the family struggled to make funeral arrangements for Grandpa Warke and Grandma Cuypers, they were hit with more devastating news. They were told their two remaining grandparents had contracted coronavirus.
Their grandfather Jef Vanhaeren, 84, and wife Dora Jooken, 80, had both contracted the virus.
Mr Vanhaeren stubbornly refused to go to hospital because he didn't want to die on his own. His illness was short and he was the first to die.
His wife Ms Jooken also died at home a month later.
"In the end it meant that she also died alone," Mr Luwel said.
The brothers said the cruel twist is that the family avoided their grandparents to try to protect them from contracting coronavirus, which they sadly hadn't been able to avoid.
"We told ourselves we would make up for the lost time later, but they still got the virus," Mr Luwel said.
"And now we can never make up for that lost time."
More than 3,257,000 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus around the world, according to a global tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.
Of those infected more than 233,000 have died.
Originally published as Family loses four grandparents to virus