'Saddest photo' shows heartbroken grandparents

Wolf and Anita Gottschalk cry each time they have to leave each other (Ashley Bartyik / Facebook)
Wolf and Anita Gottschalk cry each time they have to leave each other (Ashley Bartyik / Facebook)

An elderly Canadian couple has been forced to live apart after 62 years of marriage because their rest homes can't house them together.

Granddaughter Ashley Bartyik made an emotional plea to the Fraser Health Authority to put them back together, along with "the saddest photo I have ever taken".

It shows her grandparents Wolf and Anita Gottschalk, who she calls her Omi and Opi, wiping tears away as they see each other at a transitional facility in British Columbia.

Ms Bartyik says they've been living apart for eight months, and the family spends every second day driving Ms Gottschalk half an hour to see her husband - each time ending in tears.

"My grandma can't even kiss him goodnight now. He calls out for her when he sees her," Ms Bartyik told Canada's CTV News.

The Fraser Health Authority says Mr Gottschalk is on a waiting list to move into the same rest home where his wife is, but can't say when.

To make the situation worse, he's in the early stages of dementia and has recently been diagnosed with lymphoma.

"Besides that limiting his time and making this more urgent, his dementia is growing ever stronger each day, but his memory of my grandmother has not faded an inch...yet. We are afraid however that if they are living apart much longer, his memory of her won't stay," she wrote in her Facebook post.

The post has been shared more than 3000 times and has spread much further than Ms Bartyik anticipated.

But she hoped people would take notice of the photo.

"I wanted the world to see what we see every two days when we bring my grandmother to see my grandfather - the raw emotion, the sadness, the anger," she told CTV.

She says she's received almost 200 private messages from strangers because of it and thanked them for their support.

The Fraser Health Authority says it's been working on reuniting the couple, but no space has opened up at the rest home since Ms Gottschalk moved in.