Numbers Are Real People

Everyday, we are barraged with more information about this virus, clearly needed to make good personal decisions based on public health experience and expertise. Yes, numbers matter. Yes, statistics paint a picture that can empower changes in behaviors. Credible medical information is gold right now. Government mandated behavioral changes can affect and modify outcomes. For sure. We are following those mandates and guidelines personally.

But in my mind, every day…..I wonder when we will acknowledge the dead as more than a number?

When will we hear a press release or conference, a lament at any level that extends ongoing sympathy and concern for these families? At our own levels? Our prayers personal and collective? When will we consider those at high risk (or no risk) now on ventilators, or critically ill, their lives ever changed? Their families who are experiencing fear based on a harsh reality? Their economics? The uninsured sick? We may have agreed to pay for the test but what about the several hundred thousand dollars ICU generated hospital bills? How do we let these people know they are more than numbers…..numbers I read most people don’t find impressive because they are “low.” Numbers always prefaced by “only”? There is no “low” or “only” if it’s your sister, your father, your spouse, etc. 

I wonder who had a new grandchild? Left behind young children? Was a caregiver to an aging or sick spouse? Was a health care provider? Was a wise professor with years yet to teach? A grandparent raising grandchildren? A gifted artist? Someone simply beloved? What were their stories?

I know that many do pray for these precious people. We do. You do. Our congregations do. I would never suggest compromising their identities or becoming intrusive…but wish we could offer each family our individual and collective condolences.

I want to suggest we do all have a way to honor those who have died, their families and those who are sick…..and we can honor them every day.

We can start by ceasing to diminish them with social media posts that disclaim the significance and power of this virus; by dropping the denial, the inconvenience, the non compliance… and adjusting our lives to accommodate and model all of the guidelines at our disposal. This is a fluid situation…they will be added to as time goes on, almost daily. We need to listen to our public health officials…they are working long, stressful hours on our behalf.

Recognize that “high risk” includes far more than the elderly! It includes cancer patients, the immunosuppressed, diabetics, those with chronic illnesses and many more…in any age group.

We can all do this together. We may not enjoy the usual privileges but the privilege will be knowing each of us played a part in a return to wellness. It will mean those who died have been honored in the most important way we can.

2 thoughts on “Numbers Are Real People

  1. Jackie, As the Mom of a very high risk individual and an asthma patient as well, you have really awakened those that lose sight that there are many vulnerable people right next to them.  You so eloquently point out that, though the “numbers” may not be massive, those that are effected are affected massively! I so appreciate your sensitivity to the plight of those around us. Stay well! God bless you!

    Susie Dudley


  2. Thank you for this post. We are staying close to home because of a pre existing condition that JW lives with and your words, as always, give such comfort. I miss you but reading this makes me feel a little closer!


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