Pandemic deaths — not just statistics or mere numbers

Last week I read that the US had passed the 180,000 deaths’ mark and it suddenly hit me how for all of us, with the weight of the pandemic, the struggle with pay cuts, job losses and worsening economy, the pandemic deaths are gradually becoming more about statistics than people.

US now sits at the top of the worldometers statistics with deaths, followed by Brazil at 114,744 deaths, India at 57,692 deaths, Italy at 35,437 deaths and Canada is at 9,073 deaths according to the website.

And yes, the numbers are important, the statistics are important—to keep track of the number of deaths, to keep a count of how many recovered and how extensively this pandemic has spread and continues to spread. But more than anything, it is important to understand that how despite the growing numbers, and despite politicians making the pandemic political instead of about the people, there are actual humans behind those numbers.

Death. It isn’t always real until it hits closer to home. Reading and watching the news, we see the pandemic affecting someone far away, the death toll rising somewhere that is not our own neighbourhood and we feel bad and move on with our lives. It doesn’t always affect us, deeply, the way it does to someone whose family and friends are part of those statistics.

These families, who lost their loved ones to COVID-19, struggled for days and months as a result of separation from their sick, dying loved ones, to adhere to the strict quarantine rules. Many have watched their loved ones take their last breath through a glass separating them, unable to hold their hands. Many others haven’t been able to grieve or mourn the loss and honour their dead through funerals and ceremonies. In Italy, several dead were being buried by just the priest in the absence of family or friends. China had banned funerals completely and had health workers in hazmat suits take away the dead. There are no large memorial gatherings happening anywhere else in the world. These numbers, those statistics, the people behind them are getting burials without any funerals and their families are dealing with all the grief without being able to find comfort in hugs.

So if these families can grieve deaths without hugs, why can’t we celebrate life without them too? Why are people all over the world still disobeying the rules laid down by their country’s health officials and travelling, gathering in large numbers in public, not social distancing, not wearing masks when and where asked to?

It makes me wonder if people are slowly getting numb to the numbers.

So, let’s not forget the humans behind the numbers, let’s not forget our humanity and let us all, band together—be it to stay at home, to quarantine or to wear masks—let us all do whatever is right for all of our people.

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