She is dying and she is alone. She does not have COVID-19, but the current visitor restrictions will not yield until her death is imminent. Every time her children ask to see her, I feel more like a captor than physician.

Now, with death approaching, I call her children. “Please, come be with your mother.” The response was excitement, which I share, too, but what are we excited about? Their desperate pleas for togetherness are answered at a cost: the certainty of death.

She has a large family. I bring some of her adult children and her husband into her room. As the moment nears, her other children join from home via Zoom. Wheeling the tablet that will become their window into her room, I dwell on the word “VIDEOCONFERENCE” that appears across the top of...

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