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Perspective: The Memorial Day our country really needs


As America approached one million deaths from Covid-19, I had this thought: If each person who died had one person who loved them, that’s an additional one million mourners. We know many people had families, friends and co-workers who loved them, so the number of people who are grieving is most likely beyond our ability to calculate.

In the worst of the pandemic, people died alone, isolated from those who loved them most. Many families never saw the person before death took them, leaving a wound for many that has festered. Death and burial rituals were disrupted. Without these rituals, people were alone.

It is this deep collective mourning that has triggered our national exhaustion. People want to find some peace and normalcy. I have listened to people talk about being tired, anxious, wanting something other than what is right in front of us – the challenge is mourning the missing place at the table.

Perhaps, we can find a way to honor the loss of the past two years. We can offer quiet spaces for listening, without trying to fix others. We can acknowledge the effort it takes for some people to manage life. Rising each day, living with courage, falling into bed then waking with the sun and doing it again. Sometimes it takes something to stay the course

Maybe this Memorial Day, we can remember. Remember everyone whose lives were touched as a result of the pandemic, in whatever way that is.

So, this Memorial Day -- Be with someone. Pause. Think deeply and let the tears of our pain heal our hearts.

Lou Ness has been working in service to people for decades. She has headed church-based programs in Rockford and served as Director of the Rockford Police Chaplains Program. She was an early pioneer in the domestic violence community.