By Pauline Kerr
There are people who remain oblivious to the dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of us have heard statements such as, “The media is blowing this thing out of proportion.”
Most of us, including members of the press, are reacting to the pandemic with appropriate seriousness, although suiting up in full hazmat gear to go buy groceries does seem a bit much.
Spending most of the time cooped up in our homes is difficult, but we do it. The more people who are out interacting with each other, the greater the chance of spreading the virus is. Caution keeps us and our loved ones healthy.
Problems arise when “cooped up” shifts gears into “going stir-crazy” and “caution” morphs into “paranoia.” Some of us seem to be part of the way there, which could explain such COVID-19 phenomena as panic-buying toilet paper. This is why it is essential we keep in touch with friends and family by whatever means possible – texting, phone calls, email, Zoom, signs in the window, old fashioned semaphore on the front lawn – whatever it takes. Human connections are as important as water and food (and hand sanitizer) when it comes to staying healthy.
The fact is, these are stressful times, and we no longer have access to many of the ways we depend on for dealing effectively and positively with stress – getting together with friends, going to the movies, visiting family, buying a new outfit, getting our hair done, going to the gym, even spending time at our favourite park or beach.
Social isolation, combined with the very real fear of a nasty disease and the economic havoc wreaked by efforts to control it, all add up.
Add to that the mind-shattering tragedy of a murderous rampage in Nova Scotia that left almost two dozen people dead. Including the killer himself, the death toll from the rampage stood at 23 as the police investigation continued in the weeks after the tragedy.
As people who live in a primarily rural area, we can easily empathize with our counterparts in Nova Scotia who lost family and friends to the killer. People know their neighbours in communities like this. We chat with random folks in the grocery or hardware store. One person’s tragedy affects the entire community.
We share in the outrage that a person disguised as a police officer was able to move from town to town, killing as he went, for almost 12 hours before he died in a hail of police bullets.
At this point no one knows why he did what he did. Jealousy? Anger? Financial losses due to COVID-19? His exact motivation may never be known. All police said, was his use of the RCMP uniform and car indicates an element of planning. What we do know is he killed 22 people, including an RCMP officer, a woman out for a Sunday morning walk, a teenager and her parents, nurses, teachers – ordinary people. Good people. Family members. Neighbours. Friends.
To add to the tragedy, COVID-19 means there will be no church services, community vigils, or large funerals. People will not be able to join together to express their grief and to begin to come to terms with such a devastating and senseless loss.
Perhaps it will be some small consolation to those in mourning is that they do not grieve alone. Our thoughts and those of people right across Canada are with them.
We have had a horrible reminder that there are worse things than being cooped up in a house with a couple of grumpy kids, a bored spouse and a diminishing stash of toilet paper.
Perhaps this will give us a reason to smile at the grocery check-out person, come up with a way to say thank you to our medical people serving on the front lines against COVID-19, or help a neighbour.
There is no better time to phone a friend, check in with family, and wave at people we see on the street, whether we know them or not.
Community connections are to be treasured.