GLENDALE HEIGHTS, Ill. (CBS) — A suburban mother died of COVID-19, and the family said they were denied the first step in closure – the opportunity to view the body.

As CBS 2’s Jermont Terry reported the hospital said it is for their own safety.

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To lose a loved one during this pandemic is difficult – and it’s even harder when you can’t be at their bedside when they pass away.

But AMITA Health Adventist Medical Center GlenOaks in Glendale Heights has told one family they are not allowed to see their loved one sitting in the hospital morgue either – adding even more to the family’s grief.

“She was a lovable and happy person,” Nicole Willis said of her sister, Adrian.

But Adrian Willis’ family won’t get to see her smile anymore. Willis contracted the COVID-19 virus while living at a nursing home, and last Sunday, she was rushed to the GlenOaks emergency room.

“She went into cardiac arrest and she died,” Nicole Willis said. “That’s all they said.”

Five days after her deaths, Willis’ sister and her teenage sons are not allowed even to identify her body in the hospital morgue.

“It’s not just the kids. It’s all of us,” Nicole Willis said. “We want to see her and say goodbye, or just see her. How do we know if it’s even her?”

The family admits paying for a funeral and burial would be financially impossible, so GlenOaks agreed to ease the burden – but with one stipulation.

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“They’re pushing for us to cremate her,” Nicole Willis said. “We understand that part of it, but they won’t let us see her.”

“Jermont, allow me to offer my sincerest condolences to the Willis family,” said Vladimir Radivojevic, chief operating officer of GlenOaks.

Radivojevic said in normal times, a family could view their loved one’s body at the morgue.

“But because their loved one is infectious, we want to make sure we keep the family safe too,” he said.

The family claims the hospital also refused to snap a picture before removing Willis’ body.

“It’s all type of technology, arguing you could FaceTime or do this or that,” Nicole Willis said. “They keep saying, ‘Naw, we’ll call you back.’”

Yet GlenOaks insists a picture will be taken of Adrian Willis and the total cost covered.

“Because many people are passing, we do have to move the deceased on to crematoriums or funeral homes so we have the capacity to have space in our morgue,” Radivojevic said.

Adrian Willis’ family said they have reason to believe she fell and collapsed on the hospital floor. It is another reason they contend the hospital won’t let them see the body.

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Radivojevic said there is no record of Willis ever falling or injuring herself.