On this day of remembrance, I have an image of a candle vivid in my mind. On its own, a candle brings a small flicker of light, yet it is a source that shines even stronger the darker it is. No matter where you live in this world, a candle is a universal symbol. It universally brings feelings of somber reflection, gratitude and of course, HOPE and STRENGTH. It is that hope that gives us strength, now as we move forward in a new world where COVID-19 is very much a part of our society and of the aging field.
We have all experienced loss during this time. As we reflect on the Elders who lost their battle with COVID, we grieve that this came so fast and furious and was, in a way, so unexpected.
We are confronted with the fact that only limited numbers of family members could be by the side of their loved ones in their very last moments. In some cases, the only people by their side were our amazing staff.
I hurt alongside all of you when I think of the mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, husbands and wives who lost their fight with this silent enemy. Yet I am also comforted by the fact that there were many moments of joy and tearful goodbyes that were still able to happen virtually.
I am thankful for the day and time we live in where we have the technology to allow virtual connection to happen. We are humbled by the many family members who have paid tribute to their loved ones and it brings us hope knowing that their legacies will live on.
We also mourn with the caregivers who tirelessly and courageously dedicated so much in taking care of those who needed care the most during this time, but in many instances, also lost their battle with COVID.
A candle often provides direction. These caregivers provided direction and guidance and were an unwavering, solid presence in the lives of those they tended to.
As the time passes, these candles will be extinguished, their light will not go out. It lives eternally, as their memories will never be forgotten.
Although we come from many diverse backgrounds and are meeting virtually, today our individual candles combined make us a strong force. We are a force that will demand better resolutions, treatments, and resources. We are a presence of light that will forge forward hoping that tomorrow there will be more answers and solutions than questions and uncertainties and together we will not stop until that becomes a reality.
We will let our past shape us to be better – to be better as an industry, in our organizations and as people.
We now cherish the moments we otherwise would have taken for granted. This candlelight is a representation of strength – even a little can go a long way. Let it inspire us to go a long way in forging a future that is informed by our past in honor of those we lost. Light will prevail against the darkness and hope will shine again.
By Roberto Muniz