As of this writing, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has the count of deaths in the US, due to the coronavirus pandemic, as 152,870* people.
That’s hard to imagine. News agencies, bloggers, and social media people have tried to draw comparisons to make that number more understandable. There are comparisons online, as in dividing the Covid-19 death toll by the 9/11 death toll to see how many 9/11s it equals. Comparisons to 9/11, and Vietnam, World Wars I and II, and more may help with understanding that big number: 152,870. Sometime soon there will likely be breakdowns by “how many miles of road the bodies would cover if laid end to end…” and that may help understand the death toll. Certainly, it will draw horror.
Instead of breaking that number down, or trying to picture cordwood-like stacks of bodies and how tall they would be, think of 1.
Every 1 that is included in that count of deaths may have had a spouse, a child, a parent, a cousin, or all of these. Each 1 is a family grieving for their loved one, no matter the age or US state. That death might have brought grief along with the loss of that person’s life to come, loss of a paycheck if they were an adult and working. For each 1 who contributed paychecks to the household, there’s not just grief but financial suffering to come for their families. Each 1 is also a loss beyond their home: to coworkers, to dorm-mates or classmates, to neighbors, and to friends. Each 1 created a hole where they used to be, and the people around them are feeling it. Each 1 was important, and each 1 left behind a wave of grief felt by many others.
Instead of trying to understand that 152,980 — and increases in that death toll to come, understand that for each person who dies there is a community grieving. The impact of each death radiating through many other people. These communities in mourning are spread across all of the United States. Far beyond that hard-to-imagine number of 152,980, grief waves across our nation to the 300+ million of us. Each 1 is a loss to all of us, even if we didn’t know them.
It’s too late for those who have already been counted in that death toll; however, it’s time, now, to support the communities made up of the grieving. Spread kindness where you can, because anyone you see may be dealing with loss right now, whether directly in their family or of someone they knew, worked with, went to school with, or sat next to at church.
Donate to food banks or rent-covering charities to help those who’ve lost household income. Some who are grieving are also going hungry, in fear of eviction, and reaching the end of their ropes.
Do what you can for others, now, because every communities needs compassion, not comparisons.
*World Heath Organization lists US deaths as 152,630 today.
Added Note: For one source of obituaries and stories of the people who have died from Covid-19, Follow twitter.com/FacesOfCOVID.
Readers, please: Do what you can, as an individual, to keep that number from continuing to grow quickly. Slow it down. For love of this country, take precautions — including masks, social distancing, and hand-washing — to play your part in slowing the spread of coronavirus to more people. There’s already grief enough to go around.