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The Need for Collective Mourning

I am profoundly grateful to the New York Times for their Sunday, May 24 front page. Under a headline reading, "U.S. DEATHS NEAR 100,000, AN INCALCULABLE LOSS," they listed the names of 1,000 of those individuals who have died of covid-19, with the age, where they lived, and a detail about them. Maestro of a steel-pan band. Rocket engineer. Taught her girls sheepshead and canasta. 

One of my clearest memories of 9-11 was watching on tv, the family members running from camera to camera, holding up pictures of their loved ones, pleading that someone look at the picture, and tell them the person was alive. I sobbed, over and over, and finally had to turn the tv off for a while. I remember, clearly, saying, "I just can't cry anymore."

It was right that we cried then, and right that we should cry now. This is a devastating loss of life. It is unnatural and inhuman to ignore the death toll, to not be affected. We should be weeping and burning candles. We should be promising the grieving families that we will try to be of comfort to them in some way, even if it is only to give them the knowledge that they are not crying alone.

I'm grateful to our local paper here, the Hill Country News. Whenever a blurb comes through their social media feed about another death in the county, the paper always expresses condolences for the family. Why aren't we seeing that same empathy from our elected leaders?

Those numbers we see are made up of real people. And their deaths diminish us. "Each is a piece of the continent. A part of the main."

Our country is the lesser for their deaths. America has less music, less laughter, less richness because of their absence. What is worse than grief is to ignore the grief that we rightly should feel for this loss.

We are about to hit 100.000 confirmed covid-19 deaths. And I will begin wearing a black armband. For I am in mourning.


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