MADISON (WKOW) -- As the number of deaths from COVID-19 continues to rise in Wisconsin, so does the number of families left to pick up the pieces.
But along with families who lose a loved one, nurses, doctors and other health professionals increasingly carry the burden of grief as well.
In an emotional video posted to SSM Health's Facebook page, Andrea Jarstad, an ICU nurse who has been with SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital - Madison for nearly 24 years , talks about the hardest part of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The video has been shared more than 1,000 times since it was first posted Tuesday.
Often she is the only person in the room with a patient when they die, holding an iPad while family members say goodbye.
"The hardest part is when patients pass, of course and their loved ones can't say goodbye," Jarstad said. "It's really hard."
"I always make sure that I tell the families that their loved one is not dying alone," she said.
Andrea says that for a family to be able to tell them that they love them and forgive them for whatever -- these things are so important.
She says she's been there when family members have only been able to be outside of a door and watch as their spouse, daughter, son pass away.
"It's devastating for us, and I can't imagine what it's like for the family," she said. "It's been a really hard experience."