Collective Grief

Candles and a plate on the table at Canterbury House.
Photo, Renee Roederer.

Last night via Zoom, I attended Compline, a beautiful service to mark the transition into evening. This service is held by Canterbury House community on Wednesday nights. Over the last few years, I’ve spent many Wednesdays actually in the house for this weekly time together.

Last evening, I was present on Zoom for the first time this entire semester. So I heard an Episcopalian prayer that I typically voice weekly for the first time in many months. Given the collective grief in the United States, this really hit me:

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all your love’s sake.

Such a tender prayer, always relevant, and yet now, deeply resonant. I’ve heard these words many times, but they took on form in a new way. Yesterday, for the first time, our country lost more than 3,000 people from the coronavirus in one day — a new, terrible marker of grief.

Even if we knew none of these people personally, it makes sense to pause to feel our feelings around losses like these, recognizing that more people are dying daily.

I saw an image this week that brought home the sobering size of these losses. It said,

Deadliest Days in American History:

1) Galveston Hurricane — 8,000
2) Antietam — 3,600
3) September 11, 2001 — 2,977
4) Last Thursday — 2,861
5) Last Wednesday — 2,762
6) Last Tuesday — 2,461
7) Last Friday — 2,439
8) Pearl Harbor — 2,403

When I heard yesterday’s numbers, I knew we had lost more people from this virus on a single day than 9/11.

This deserves collective grief.

Renee Roederer

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