David Entin: I am a retired educational administrator who lives in Northampton. I am not a member of the Straw Dogs Writers Guild and will turn 80 in July. My career has included anti-poverty and civil rights work and serving as an administrator in higher education.
GRIEF AND ANGER IN THE AGE OF COVID-19
It’s been over six weeks now since we isolated at home due to the virus and already I am full of grief and anger. The searing television and photo images of suffering, struggle, and the behavior of some irresponsible leaders are getting to me. I never know what will suddenly provoke tears and get my blood boiling.
Grief is the most salient feeling of all. The daily toll of coronavirus cases is staggering. The number of deaths is not fathomable. Tens of thousands in the United States have succumbed, and hundreds of thousands around the globe. And the number grows every day; it does not stop; it is unrelenting. How can we comprehend what this means? We can only imagine how devastated are the lives of family members and friends of the dead.
Most painful for me is how the virus has ravaged nursing homes. The aged are like innocent sitting ducks. 71 veterans have already been struck down in the Old Soldiers Home in Holyoke. Bodies are being stacked up in a small room in a New Jersey nursing facility. Are old folks so expendable? Laborers in meat packing plants around the country are contracting the virus and the President is ordering them to not close down, with only “suggested” guidelines for improved environmental working conditions.
I am so moved by the heroes on the front lines of fighting the scourge. I have watched experienced health care workers exclaim they have never seen so many deaths. One intensive care nurse sobbed that he felt each death was a personal failure. The story of the valiant emergency room physician who worked twelve-hour shifts to save patients, caught and recovered from the virus herself, and finally took her own life, brought tears to my eyes. The anxiety of exposed workers fearing their families may become infected takes a heavy toll on all of us. Compared to a normal line of 300, ten thousand hungry people showed up outside a Texas city to receive free food. The impact of this pandemic is devastating!
I am so angry at our national leader. For two months he could have prepared our country to fight this pandemic. Instead he said it would go away and was “under control.” Our President promoted a false cure (hydroxychloroquine) and then suggested a disinfectant might work. Finally, instead of leading and unifying our nation, he has espoused division by supporting protestors refusing to follow the best advice of our health experts. Around 70,000 Americans are dead and there has been next to no empathy from our leader. How many lives could have been saved with good leadership, as other countries have demonstrated?
Each day news stories and TV visuals bring strong feelings of grief and anger. Some have suggested not keeping informed to avoid this rush of emotions. Beyond screaming at the TV screen and flailing my arms, what am I to do?