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Real People Are Behind the Statistics

Today I learned that COVID-19 cases are rising in many US states, and we now have 125,000+ deaths in the US (likely much higher). Somehow, COVID-19 has become a political issue even though COVID will kill regardless of political affiliation. My desire is not to discuss the politics of COVID—should economies be open, should we wear masks, etc.? Rather, as a grief book author, I think about the deaths and those left behind. For each of the 125,000 people who’ve died, there are countless friends and family members who now carry the pain of that loss. Those 125,000 aren’t just statistics; they’re actual people with real loved ones.

My husband’s death shattered my world. Often, the pain was so unbearable that I thought I wouldn’t survive. I don’t know how many of those 125,000+ people now have a devastated spouse. But, I suspect there are at least 10,000 new widows in the world who thought they’d have more time with their partners; they’re now walking around completely broken like I was—and like all of my widowed friends were.

It’s easy to think many of the people were old, so maybe they would have died anyway. Maybe it’s ok to sacrifice them. My mom is 79, and she’s healthy and a tremendous part of my life. If she got COVID and died, I’m not sure I’d survive her death (or want to survive). I can’t even ponder it. She—and my cats—saved me after my husband’s death. My life demonstrates that even older people are vital and relevant to their families. They aren’t just statistics and people who don’t matter. They matter to someone. Being intimately acquainted with grief, I would never choose it for someone else, even if the loved one is old.

I’m not telling you to stay home or to wear a mask. That’s for health officials and leaders. That’s for you to decide. I ask, however, that you please remember that for every person who dies, there are loved ones left behind whose lives will never be the same.

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