The United States has now lost more than 600,000 mothers, fathers, children, siblings and friends to COVID-19, a painful reminder that death, disease and mourning continue even as the country begins to return to something that looks like the normal before the pandemic.
Bride forced by pandemic to have a wedding Zoom is planning a lavish in-person birthday celebration this summer, but all guests must certify that they are vaccinated.
An artist from Houston, still deeply grieved, is working on a collage of images of people who have died in her community. Others flock to theaters and bars, saying it’s time to move on.
“There will be no tears – not even tears of joy,” said Ali Whitman, who will celebrate her first wedding anniversary in August by putting on her dress and partying with 240 vaccinated friends and family. in New Hampshire.
COVID-19 almost killed his mother. She spent her wedding last year with 13 people in person while an aunt led the ceremony via Zoom.
“I would be remiss if I did not say how horrible and terrible the last year has been, but also the gratitude that I can be in a special place with all the people in my life who mean so much to me,” said said Whitman, 30. .
The United States surpassed 600,000 COVID-19 deaths on Monday, about 15% of the total number of coronavirus deaths worldwide of around 4 million, according to a Reuters tally.
The rate of serious illness and death has dropped dramatically as more Americans have been vaccinated, creating a kind of psychological boost that plagues the millions of people whose lives have been affected by the disease. Many are anxious to emerge from more than a year of illness and confinement, but they still suffer -om grief, lingering symptoms, economic trauma, or the confinement of confinement.
“We have all been through this terrible time and we have all been affected in one way or another,” said Erika Stein, who has suffered from migraines, fatigue and cognitive problems since contracting COVID-19 last fall. “My world has changed over the last year and a half – and it has been difficult. “
Stein, 34, was active and fit, working as a marketing manager and fitness instructor in Virginia, outside of Washington, DC, before the initial illness and related syndrome known as long-COVID ravaged his life.
Like many, she has mixed feelings about how quickly cities and states have moved to lift pandemic restrictions and reopen.
‘FOR MY FAMILY, THERE IS NO NORMAL’
In New York, social worker Shyvonne Noboa still cries as she speaks of the disease that has ravaged her family, infecting 14 of 17 loved ones and killing her beloved grandfather, who died alone in a hospital they could not get to him. visit.
She collapses when she walks to Target and sees the busy aisles, recalling the depths of the pandemic, when she couldn’t find hand sanitizer to protect her family.
“New York City is going back to ‘normal’ in quotes and opening up, but I can assure you that for my family there is no normal,” said Noboa, who lives in Queens, one of the first epicenters of the American epidemic. She is vaccinated but still wears a mask when she goes out and plans to continue to do so in the near future.
In Houston, artist Joni Zavitsanos began researching obituaries of people in Southeast Texas who died at the start of the pandemic, reading their stories, and creating mixed memorials displaying their names and photographs. Around each person, she painted a gold leaf halo, a tribute to Byzantine art from the Greek Orthodox Church she attends.
Zavitsanos has now created around 575 images and plans to continue, doing as much as she can, each portrait on an eight-by-eight-inch piece of wood to put together to form an installation. Her brother and three adult children contracted COVID-19 and recovered. A very close friend almost died and is still struggling to readjust.
Chris Kocher, who founded the COVID Survivors for Change support and advocacy group, called for sympathy and support from those who are still grieving.
“We are given this false choice where you can open up and celebrate, or you have to be locked in grief,” he said. “Let’s be grateful that people get vaccinated, but also recognize that getting back to normal is not an option for millions of Americans. “
One way to recognize the toll that COVID-19 has taken is to incorporate the color yellow into celebrations and gatherings, or to display a yellow heart, which for some has become a symbol of those lost because of the disease, he said.
The bittersweet mix of grief over the pandemic’s toll and relief from its ebb was clear at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport on Thursday, where Stephanie Aviles and her family awaited the arrival of a cousin from Puerto Rico. .
Aviles, 23, lost two close friends to the virus and his father almost died. And yet, she was there, greeting a family she hadn’t been able to see for 15 months as the pandemic raged.
“I’m grateful, but it’s a lot,” she said. “It’s a strange feeling to be normal again. “
Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.