A 32-year-old U.K. woman died from a heart attack while attending her mother’s funeral. Laura Richards collapsed as her mother Julie Murphy’s coffin was lowered into the ground at Atherstone Cemetery in Warwichshire Tuesday. Murphy died on March 15 in a nursing home after contracting the coronavirus. Richards’ sister Lisa Green called the tragic scene at the funeral “just awful.”
After Richards collapsed, the other mourners rushed to save her life. Green, her husband and Richards’ other sister Kelly Murphy snapped into action, and performed CPR, reports The Sun. “Everyone was really upset and Laura said she was light-headed and had pains in her chest,” Green said. “We thought it was just anxiety at first but then I called 999. It was just awful.”
Green said family members tried to keep Richards alive before paramedics arrived. She was taken to a local hospital, where she died. Her family said Richards suffered from underlying health conditions that affected her heart.
Sadie, Richards’ half-sister, missed the funeral because she is at high-risk of contracting the coronavirus due to a recent surgery, said only close family members went to the funeral to follow social distancing guidelines. Saide said her daughter was there and the family is left shaken by the tragedies. “They were lowering my mum into the ground and Laura suddenly said ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe,'” Sadie said. “But there was nothing that could be done, she had a massive heart attack. To lose your sister at your mum’s funeral – it’s like a horror film. She was only 32.”
“I can’t get my head around that it happened just as mum’s coffin was being lowered,” Sadie added. “It’s just horrible. It’s wrong.”
Murphy, a grandmother and mother of four, died last month at Oldburty Grance nursing home in Warwickshire. She was also battling MS and dementia. She was buried next to her husband Kevin, who died in 2012. Richards, who posted tributes to her mother on social media, was buried next to Murphy on Wednesday.
“We had to wear masks when we saw mum in the hospital just before she died, and I think it really upset Laura seeing her in that environment,” Sadie told The Sun. “She hadn’t been out of the house until the funeral. Losing mum must have really affected her. I think her body just gave up on her.”
Richards’ sisters remembered her as a woman with a “heart of gold” and a “special little sister.” “She would do anything for anyone and she would make everyone laugh,” Sadie said. “I keep looking out of my window thinking she’ll turn up in a taxi to say hello.”
Sadie said she hoped other families can learn from their story, noting it is important for people to stay inside to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. “I don’t want other families to suffer like I have. So please follow the rules, please stay inside and protect lives,” she said. “People of all ages are dying – young kids, doctors and nurses. Please just stay inside.”
As of Monday afternoon, there are more than 1.9 million coronavirus cases worldwide, reports Johns Hopkins University. The U.K. has reported almost 90,000 cases and just over 11,300 deaths. In the U.S., there are more than 570,000 cases and over 23,000 deaths.