All photographer Angelos Giotopoulos wanted was to return home to Melbourne and visit his terminally ill mother. But, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and Australia’s strict 14-day hotel quarantine policy, his journey didn’t go quite the way he’d planned.

I found out my mother had died over the phone, alone in a Melbourne hotel room. She was in hospital just 22 kilometers away. But Australian authorities wouldn’t let me visit her on her deathbed. When I received the news, I was three days into a 14-day quarantine, waiting for my request for an exemption on compassionate grounds to be approved.

I took it badly. I was in shock, I was numb, I couldn’t move. I had traveled to Australia from Greece to grant my mother her dying wish: to see me one last time before she passed. I just couldn’t believe this had happened, I was certain I would be able to see her.

I had to face grieving, alone, in a 30-square-meter hotel room, in isolation, without any physical human interaction. Only four walls and one window that wouldn’t open. 11 days would pass between receiving the news that my mother had passed and properly interacting with another human being. Grieving in isolation is something I would never wish on anyone. It is totally inhumane. The experience has changed me—for good or ill, only time will tell.