Connecting Across U.S. Party Lines by Honoring COVID-19 Losses

Regardless of how you feel about it, we’re inaugurating a new U.S. president on January 20, 2021. How can people come together in this country despite their differences? The pandemic. For better or for worse (and whether you like it or not), this global pandemic has interconnected us all. From decreased pay to job losses, from working from home or schooling from home, from entire industries on the verge of collapsing — we’re all directly or indirectly experiencing these changes at the same time. There are many parts of the puzzle of 2020+ that make the state of affairs seemingly impossible to improve (from whatever side of the fence you’re on). Here’s one thing you can do to ensure that these new connections we all now have are not totally wasted on anger towards either side. You can honor a fellow American’s COVID-19 loss.

I recently lost my father to COVID-19. It’s a fair, natural reaction to say “he was old, anyways” or “we’re all going to die eventually.” While it is true that there’s a circle of life, and that my father had many comorbidities, he was #NotJustANumber.

For those of you who don’t think the virus is real, don’t believe it’s that big of a deal, or are dubious of the 398,000 U.S. COVID-19 deaths on the charts, I understand. We all see the world through our own personal lenses, and I understand that what you see might not be what I see.

I see a father and husband who wasn’t protected by the very systems meant to do just that. I see daughters who pleaded for information and communication but were kept in the dark. I see a family who was robbed of the possibility of saying goodbye. I see family and friends who were deprived of the opportunity to mourn together and honor a kind, loving man who served his country. I see the trauma lived out over and over again each time these people hear about COVID-19 on the news or learn about friends and family contracting the virus, trying to show up for life each day with the fear that they might again lose another. I see the helplessness of not being able to do anything about any of it.

I can only imagine what my father saw, and if he felt as helpless as we did and still do now.

Grief and loss during a pandemic is an extra special hell. Whatever your political views are this inauguration day, I invite you to honor the losses experienced by your acquaintances, friends, coworkers, and communities by watching virtually the COVID-19 Memorial ceremony on Tuesday, January 19, at 5:30 p.m. EST. You can witness the first-ever lighting of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool to memorialize the nearly 400,000 people who have died in the U.S. from the virus. And maybe we can set aside our differences for just a short while to show compassion towards humanity.

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