It was just one year ago that the first confirmed case of coronavirus was diagnosed in the United States. Over the course of that year, more than 400,000 Americans have lost their lives to COVID-19. In most cases, families were not able to be with their loved ones through their final days, causing desperation, fear and loneliness for the dying and untold regret and guilt among those mourning their deaths. Grieving families were unable to have proper funerals and burials for their loved ones, escalating their anguish, remorse and sense of helplessness. To add further insult to injury, caring friends and communities were unable to gather and support them through their pain.
If the solitary pain of mounting devastating losses was not enough, this past year has also been marked with multitudes unable to work. For those fortunate enough to have work, many feared for their safety. Far too many in our nation were forced to rely on food banks or go hungry. But there’s more — the tension of political divide, misinformation and distrust, the racial inequities, protests, civil unrest and rioting in our cities, climaxing with the contemptable attack on our very democracy and desecration of our nation’s Capitol. In short, this past year has been a year riddled with isolation, fear, distrust, anxiety, anger and tremendous grief.
The crush of this year has sparked a need for mental health services like never before in our history. While it will take us some time to crawl out from the rubble this year has left behind, we can maintain hope that the sun will come out and there will be a brighter day tomorrow. The path through this tumultuous time will be tough. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty.” The fact is real growth takes place, not on the mountaintops, but in the low valleys of our lives. It is through adversity, sorrow and grief that we cultivate the tender mercies of life — compassion, courage, sensitivity, sympathy, kindness and understanding. In the face of turmoil, we as individuals, communities, and a nation can come together to support and care for our neighbors, bridge gaps and find peace.
On Wednesday, our nation paused for a moment to reflect and memorialize the 400,000 lives lost and those who mourn. It is time today, one year later, to start along the path to healing our souls and the soul of this nation.
Cheryl Fuhrmann is founder and grief counselor with Dusk-to-Dawn Bereavement Service, a local nonprofit organization providing free access to grief counseling for individuals struggling through loss. To learn more, donate or make an appointment, contact us at 765-376-5644, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.dusk-to-dawn.org You can also find us on Facebook and LinkedIn.