Son’s plea after ‘tough as old boots’ mum dies with coronavirus

These are the raw, blistering words of a grieving son who lost his retired nurse mum to coronavirus.

Phil Limbert, 38, asks the stark question: "Think of a loved one. Is it time for them to die alone?" after his "hero" mum Lynne Limbert died of the disease on Tuesday (April 7).

The 67-year-old, from Broadgreen, was enjoying retirement after beating bowel cancer last year, and was healthy and well when she contracted the virus.

Lynne was forced to pass on her final words to her family via staff at the Royal Liverpool Hospital, asking a medic to "tell my husband I love him."

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Hospital administrator Phil spoke to the ECHO about his family's devastating experience, and also posted a powerful warning to the public about the importance of social distancing.

He said: "I lost my mum on Tuesday 7th April to this horrible disease. She was one in a million. Two grandkids that she cannot now see grow up. Two sons she cannot spoil and a husband she cannot nag. She was only 67. A whole life ahead of her.

Paul Limbert and his late wife, retired nurse Lynne Limbert, who died from coronavirus

"Please people. STAY AT HOME. You don’t know the minute it can take a loved one away. Two weeks ago it wouldn’t have even crossed my mind that we would be sorting funeral arrangements for my mum.

"She was tough as old boots and last time I spoke to her or was with her she was saying that she was cold, and to shut that door. Not even crossed my mind she had the disease.

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"She went to A&E via ambulance on the advice from 111 and was taken to ITU and put on a ventilator. All alone. 13 days in total.

"Nobody she knew could go in and see her and I work in the hospital where she was and even I wasn’t allowed. Until they wanted to turn off the ventilator. Honestly.

"You may think ‘oh it won’t happen to me’. Well I was the same. Trust me. Nothing ever happens to us. Well this did.

Paul Limbert and his late wife, retired nurse Lynne Limbert, who died from coronavirus

"I have had hundreds of best wishes and RIP’s but we can only have 10 people at the crematorium. Nobody else is allowed on the premises.

"Do you want that for your loved one? Can you pick only 10 people to say goodbye? We cannot see her. We cannot give clothes. She will be cremated in a gown provided by the undertakers. How undignified is that?

"It’s horrific. But that’s the measures we are having to take because people won’t stay the f*** at home!!

"Think of a loved one. Is it time for them to die alone? It does not discriminate. It can literally take anyone in a matter of days.


From left: Phil Limbert, his late mum Lynne Limbert, family friend Lee and brother Chris Limbert

"Protect your loved ones as you never know when it will take hold.

"Please share. If I can save just one life with this then I’ll be happy.

"Thank you for listening."

Phil said staff at the Royal Liverpool Hospital, where he also works, were "absolutely amazing," holding her hand so she was not alone and making sure she did not feel any pain.

Phil, 38, told the ECHO his mum had complained of feeling cold, and from there her symptoms worsened until she was rushed to hospital struggling to breathe.

Phil says his mum seemed to improve and remained in good spirits.

The last Phil's dad, Paul Limbert, saw of his wife was her being given oxygen in the back of an ambulance outside their home.

Phil said: "My mum and dad had a long standing joke between them. My mum would go to the caravan in Wales at weekends, she loved going to the caravan.

"She would say to my dad, 'right, see you later'. He would say 'I love you' and she would roll her eyes and say 'ditto'.

"He knew she loved him, it was just a bit of a joke.

From left: Phil Limbert, his dad Paul, son Oscar and late mum Lynne

"But in the hospital they had to put her on a ventilator and she needed sedating. Before they did, she got one of the staff and said 'tell my husband I love him'.

"It's a bit like she knew. She was not soft my mum."

Phil was allowed to pay a final visit to his mum with PPE protection, but his dad's health conditions meant he was too high risk and Chris could not face seeing his mum attached to tubes and wires.

He said: "I didn't want to stay for the turning off of the machine, I didn't want to remember her that way and I didn't want to see her go, although they did give me that option and said you can take as long as you need.

"I got to say goodbye to her and hold her hand. I had messages from all the family saying how much they missed her and how much she was loved.

"I told her she was going to see my grandad and nan, and that she was not in pain anymore."

If you have been affected by any of the details mentioned in this story there are people who can help you.

Most people grieve when they lose something or someone important to them.

The way grief affects you depends on lots of things, including what kind of loss you have suffered, your upbringing, your beliefs or religion, your age, your relationships, and your physical and mental health.

Grieving is a totally normal process but there are way to get help if you need support.

Your GP is a good place to start. They can give you advice about other support services, refer you to a counsellor, or prescribe medication if needed.

Or you can contact support organisations directly, such as Cruse Bereavement Care (0808 808 1677) Samaritans (116 123) or Love Jasmine.

Phil said she was devoted to her grandchildren, his three-year-old son Oscar and Chris's 11-year-old son Zak, and would "do anything for anyone."

Lynne spent her working life as a nurse in Broadgreen Hospital, before doing a short stint in the Royal and then moving on to Liverpool Women's Hospital.

Although Phil has been able to see his dad since Lynne's death, they have observed social distancing so he has "not even been able to hug him.

Phil and his family said Lynne's funeral can only be attended by 10 people, but suggested anyone wishing to pay their respects make a donation to Marie Curie Cancer Care in her memory.