Elderly couple reunited after forced to live in separate nursing homes for months

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Ashley Bartyik captures photos of her grandparents, Wolfram Gottschalk, 83, and Anita Gottschalk, 81.
Ashley Bartyik captures photos of her grandparents, Wolfram Gottschalk, 83, and Anita Gottschalk, 81.
Ashley Bartyik

BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA (KABC) -- An elderly Canadian couple has finally been reunited after being forced to live in separate nursing homes for more than eight months, their granddaughter told ABC News.

An elderly couple forced to live apart for 8 months is finally reunited

The reunion 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.

Bartyik told ABC News that she worries their "heartbreak and the stress could literally kill them."

Heartbreaking story behind elderly couple crying image
Ashley Bartyik

The 29-year-old posted the photo to Facebook with the caption, "This is the saddest photo I have ever taken."

Wolfram and Anita Gottschalk, of British Columbia, Canada, were apparently moved to separate nursing homes months ago.

The Gottschalks have been married for 62 years. Due to backlogs and delays by their health care system, they would be separated for a total of eight months.

Couple shares a bittersweet moment in this touching photo
Credit: Ashley Bartyik

Wolfram was first put in an assisted living home in January for health complications from dementia. Four months later, Anita entered assisted living but was put into a different home than her husband.

Wolfram was placed on a waiting list so he could move in with Anita, but he was still stuck without his sweetheart month later.

Credit: Ashley Bartyik

Bartyik says her parents drove Anita to Wolfram's center at least every two days.

"They've been together since they got married in 1954," she said. "They're completely infatuated with each other and have been together in sickness and health. They deserve to stay together."

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."

WTVD-TV and ABC News contributed to this report.