Elderly Couple Reunited After Forced to Live in Separate Nursing Homes for Months

The two were captured crying over the separation in late August.

September 27, 2016, 1:35 PM

— -- An elderly Canadian couple has finally been reunited after being forced to live in separate nursing homes for more than eight months, according to their granddaughter.

The reunion, which was filled with "tears of joy," came after Wolfram Gottschalk, 83, and Anita Gottschalk, 81, were photographed crying in late August during a visitation a few months after they were first separated, according to their granddaughter, Ashley Bartyik.

"This is the saddest photo I have ever taken," Bartyik, 29, captioned the photo posted to Facebook.

PHOTO: Anita Gottschalk, 81, and Wolfram Gottschalk, 83, have been heartbroken since they've been forced to live in separate nursing homes, according to their 29-year-old granddaughter Ashley Bartyik.
Anita Gottschalk, 81, and Wolfram Gottschalk, 83, have been heartbroken since they've been forced to live in separate nursing homes, according to their 29-year-old granddaughter Ashley Bartyik.
Ashley Bartyik

At the time, Bartyik told ABC News she and her family had been pleading with Fraser Health Authority, which manages the assisted living residences, to allow her grandparents, who had been married for over 62 years, to live together.

Bartyik added that that she was worried her grandparents' heartbreak and stress "could literally kill them."

Fraser Health previously said that it had been working to get the couple together but space was unavailable.

"We certainly understand how heartbreaking this is for the family," Fraser Health spokeswoman Tasleem Juma told ABC News partner CTV News at the time. "It’s upsetting for us as well."

But nearly a month later -- and after the heartbreaking photo of Wolfram and Anita had been shared more than 10,000 times on Facebook -- the couple's wishes have been finally granted, Bartyik announced on social media last week.

Wolfram was moved into the same facility as Anita on Thursday, Sept. 22, and the two were captured smiling, kissing and embracing in heartwarming photos and video Bartyik posted to Facebook.

"They can now be under the same roof for their remaining years, and we couldn’t be more grateful," Bartyik wrote in her post on Facebook. "They would like to thank Fraser Health for this reunion, and also the media for helping to get their story heard. They also wish to thank everyone around the world that liked, shared, or discussed their story."

The 29-year-old added that though her grandparents were now reunited, "the story isn't over" and that she would continue advocating for other couples separated by the health system in the British Columbia area.

Fraser Health cared "deeply about reuniting couples in long-term care as quickly as possible," Juma told ABC News in a statement today, adding that the health authority was happy to be able to reunite Wolfram and Anita.

Juma explained that Fraser Health had been working with Bartyik's family "for some time to ensure we were able to reunite their loved ones as quickly as possible." She added that health authority had "presented the family with options for reunification and they chose the option that suited them best until a bed became available at their preferred site."

"Couple reunification is a priority for us," she said. "This can sometimes take longer when individuals need different levels of care, and especially when families have a preference for a particular site. Still, we do everything in our power to bring couples together quickly."

Bartyik did not immediately respond to ABC News' requests for additional comment today.

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