Some time very soon, perhaps already by the time you’re reading this, the United States will have experienced its 100,000th confirmed death from the novel coronavirus, including 79 Mainers.

The actual death toll is almost certainly higher, and probably much higher. But it’s not numbers we should be discussing here – except to make sure that we account for the scope of this terrible pandemic.

Instead, we should take a moment to mourn each of the individual lives we’ve lost — and what we’ve all lost along with them.

That’s not easy to do while everyone’s lives are being reordered in drastic ways and on the fly. But it is nevertheless critical to our collective healing.

Indeed, tragically, many of those who have died from COVID-19 did so alone, their loved ones unable to visit in-person or share their final moments. Funerals, too, were postponed in order to slow the spread of the virus.

We hold dear the rituals that mark the end of a life, and it has been difficult to see those disturbed. What do you do when you can’t say goodbye the way you always have? How do you move forward when you can’t mark the passing of a loved one?

And it’s not just the ability to mourn that we’ve lost. In only a few months, the pandemic has taken other important milestones and traditions as well. We should recognize that the loss is real, and that it has left a hole.

Entire classes of high seniors lost the last few months of high school, prom and graduation — at least in the traditional sense.

Many young athletes lost an entire spring sports season; some won’t get a chance to play competitively again. Little Leaguers, in many cases, won’t throw any pitches this year.

Many of Maine’s summer camps are closing for the summer too — they say it would be hard to keep kids safe when close interaction is the whole point. For those kids, a summer will go by without making the same friends and memories.

Memorial Day came and went without the community services and get-togethers we’re used to. For most people, Fourth of July won’t be the same either.

Religious services. Movies. Concerts. Grabbing a bite to eat, or a coffee, or a beer. The pandemic has changed so many of our customs and routines, and many of them will not return to the way they were for a long time, if at all.

It’s been worth it. Absolutely. All the changes we made saved lives and lessened suffering in so many ways, and we must all continue to do our part to limit the conditions under which the coronavirus can spread.

And some of the changes will no doubt be beneficial in the long run. Businesses, governments and organizations will figure out new ways to do what they do, and we will adapt to them. Certainly, we’ll like some of the new ways even better.

But let’s not forget that life as we knew it disappeared in a strange and sudden way, and we don’t know when or if it is coming back.

Along with the mounting deaths, and closed businesses and lost jobs, that is a profound loss, and it’s OK to mourn it.


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