This situation is unprecedented. Since December 2019, the coronavirus has devastated the globe, rampaging country after country at an exponential rate and bringing life as we know it to a standstill. Globally, drastic measures have been taken to combat the spread of the virus. Major concerts, sporting events and festivals have been cancelled or postponed. Many have transitioned to working from home and making social distancing the new norm. Still, COVID-19 has managed to strain healthcare systems and shut down the city that never sleeps. This discontinuation of everyday life has resulted in loss for all kinds of people and it is essential to grieve all of them in order to move on.
The battle against COVID-19 has sustained many casualties, foremost is the loss of life. New York City has become an epicenter of the pandemic, and New Yorkers have been some of the hardest hit in the nation.
On a smaller scale, many must forgo their plans in favor of isolation or online parties. If the coronavirus has shown us anything, it is that life is not guaranteed. Therefore, being denied the opportunity to celebrate another year of perseverance is a hefty loss in itself.
For me, the closure of campus was what I especially mourned. Moments after dismounting a plane in Atlanta, I received NYU President Andrew Hamilton’s evacuation mandate. Due to his previous email advising students to pack valuables and school essentials, I left my dorm with my classwork and a month’s worth of clothing. For days I anxiously deliberated returning to pack up my room, despite the worsening conditions in the city. The thought of my property being lost, damaged or destroyed troubled me. Everything that I owned, I or my parents worked hard to obtain. My personal belongings are a product of sacrifice and determination. And just like that, the fruits of my labor indefinitely vanished.
For the class of 2020, we have been robbed of goodbyes, fulfillment and closure. In the blink of an eye, students had to scatter, leaving behind friends, faculty and familiar faces. Many passing conversations were had without any indication that they would be the last. The university’s decision to postpone in-person commencement meant seniors, especially first-generation graduates, were cheated out of a pivotal moment for their families. Even if we are engrossed in a global pandemic, it is okay to mourn those memories too.
Everyone has lost something at the hands of COVID-19. Many mourn family and friends, failed by inaccessibility to testing and the inaction of the current administration. Others may grieve the loss of their privacy, way of life, college experience or even their birthday celebrations. While reflecting and understanding the situation and its effects are important, finding space to mourn during the pandemic is the only way to move forward.
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Email Mili Mansaray at [email protected]