May 27, 2020

One hundred thousand is a big number

Grief is real and here to stay for a time. The official count of COVID-19 deaths in the US passed 100,000 today, less than 3 months after the announced first death on February 29. Some data shows the actual toll is higher. There are excess deaths in each state that are not directly attributed to COVID-19. These may be due to people avoiding care to avoid exposure, or having an undiagnosed condition, or the more common causes like cancer. Some had undiagnosed COVID-19 as well. Still so much grief and so difficult to mourn for anyone who has lost loved ones, despite the reason. Funerals and weddings are two of the biggest culprits in transmissions, so aren’t options right now. People yearn to grieve together.

How to respond and grieve with our hurting loved ones? As Parker Palmer points out often just the gift of “presence” and “being with” them, not with advice, but just being with them, is the best thing. This presence can be done with a regular phone call, a video visit, a physically distant meet up in a park. We can’t fix their pain or what caused it, but we can be their witness. This is a gift we can give. It has taken me a long time to learn how powerful and simple this really is. So many times we feel we can’t help. Advice is not needed, just ourselves. We can gift it to others hurting for other reasons too, like losing their jobs, a failing business, living alone, feeling alone.

I get a weekly email newsletter called Brainpickings that has beautifully curated readings that bring me hope and keep me going. This recent one about Victor Frankl who survived Auschwitz and wrote “Man’s Search for Meaning” was particularly powerful for me. Somewhere different than pessimism or optimism. How to keep going despite the grief we feel and look for life.

We are doing this together. Somehow writing daily helps you and it helps me. I think I feel more connected and the same is true for you. We are not alone in this pandemic and we still need to help and support each other through this. We got this and each other. Thanks for reading.

Wash your hands, cover your nose, and don’t forget your safe six.

And finally, my caveat is that this is my experience and my opinions, which are subject to change as more information is available, and not related to the organization I work for. Thanks for reading.

https://onbeing.org/blog/the-gift-of-presence-the-perils-of-advice/

https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/27/health/us-coronavirus-wednesday/index.html

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker/obits-spiked-around-country-with-covid-onslaught

https://healthcostinstitute.org/annual-reports/daily-deaths-during-coronavirus-pandemic-by-state

https://www.brainpickings.org

https://www.brainpickings.org/2020/05/17/yes-to-life-in-spite-of-everything-viktor-frankl/