Lessons from COVID-19 that are worth remembering, like not becoming numb to it all

Like gun fatalities and car crashes, you could become numb to the 500,000 coronavirus deaths and to what that number means to the families of COVID-19 victims.

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Indeed, we shouldn’t dwell on the misery the deadly virus has caused, if only for the sake of our mental health.

It helps to look on the bright side.

Forced to stick close to home, many of us found joy in simple pleasures like learning how to bake the perfect apple pie.

But as President Joe Biden said at a ceremony for the nation to pay our respects to those we have lost to the pandemic: “We have to resist becoming numb to the sorrow. We have to resist viewing each life as a statistic or a blur.”

There are lessons from COVID-19 that should stay with us for the rest of our lives.

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In the interest of saving lives, most of us willingly went on lockdown and took refuge behind masks. But we all had some aspect of the shutdown that we didn’t like.

For many, it was enduring the indignity of churches being closed while liquor stores and weed shops flourished.

And there was the pain of teachers knowing that, for children whose only escape from danger at home was the classroom, the pandemic was the boogeyman in the closet.

When the pandemic touches us individually, we feel the sharp sting of its grip. Last week, my daughter’s wonderful mother-in-law suffered a catastrophic stroke and was airlifted to Loyola University Medical Center, where she remains in a coma.

Except for one brief moment, her son and daughter have been unable to sit by her bedside because of COVID restrictions. They are beside themselves with worry.

It is a blessing that beginning Monday Loyola will be relaxing its visitors policy to allow patients to have one visitor a day between the hours of 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. I hope other hospitals follow suit because we aren’t out of the woods yet.

While Illinois has been seeing the fewest new cases since July, there still were 2,441 new coronavirus cases statewide reported Friday and 55 deaths.

My family’s ordeal is a reminder that this pandemic has not only hurt the families of people with the coronavirus but that it also has had a ripple effect across the entire healthcare system.

In some instances, people have put regular health screenings on hold as the healthcare system struggled to treat coronavirus patients.

The cruelest blow was the inability for people to hold and comfort their dying loved ones.

Now that it looks like many of us will soon get the vaccine, I’m not daydreaming about doing something adventurous or even something ordinary like eating out.

I want to get family traditions back. I want the grandkids to come over for Sunday dinners. I want Friday night get-togethers with friends.

The pandemic has made life harder. But it also has brought out the good in many of us. I am amazed at the many innovative ways people have shown kindness towards one another.

For instance, in Florence, South Carolina, a group of people turned old newspaper boxes into storage bins to house donated items for people who needed them.

For the most part, our political leaders have made the right decisions to protect the public during this pandemic.

Still, few of us will miss Zoom church. A virtual church gathering could never replace the live experience of worshiping with believers any more than a stadium filled with cutouts could duplicate the exuberance of sports fans.

We can hope that we will never again have to go through such a dark time. But if we do, I pray we have learned what matters.

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