A Tribute to the People We Lost in 2021

This seems odd, but it is one way to indicate the return of normal life. It’s true that COVID-19 killed more Americans in 2021 (405,000 by mid-December) than in 2020 (385,000), and millions the world over. This tally does not include the deaths from the opioid epidemic, which has resulted in more than 940,000 Americans dying since 1999. The pandemic caused 100,000 deaths in its first year.

And yet, in shape and feel—kids back in school, churches open again—life was sometimes familiar enough to once again regard its ending as something natural and, at a certain distance, even comforting. Any obituary is an opportunity to look back and assess, not only someone’s life but also our memory of the time it occupied. Is there a metaphor in Bob Dole’s passing and George Schultz’s death? Neither of them were considered moderates in their day. We can move on from our grief, and still find meaning in those who have gone before us. When we lose someone close to us, it is possible to ponder such thoughts.




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