A day of healing on April 27 proposed

Over the past two years, Arkansas has felt the impact of the pandemic in many ways. To date, more than 11,000 Arkansans have died as a result of Covid-19. Community and faith leaders have an opportunity now to help Arkansans process the traumas and human losses we have experienced during the pandemic, the board of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement recently said..

In a statement addressed to community and faith leaders around the state, the ACHI Health Policy Board proposed that communities observe a day of reflection and healing on April 27. 

The board’s statement reads:

As we enter the third year of the Covid-19 Pandemic and our daily activities are returning to normal, it is important to pause and reflect on the impact and loss we have all experienced. Over the course of the pandemic, people from all walks of life have had to say goodbye to loved ones. We have lost more than 11,000 Arkansans — each of whom represents the loss of a parent, a grandparent, a friend, a colleague, or a teacher — and we continue to lose more each day. Estimates are that nearly 2,000 Arkansas children have lost at least one parent or caretaker to Covid-19.

Due to multiple waves of infection brought on by the arrival of new variants and the ongoing spread of the virus in our communities, we unfortunately have had little opportunity to stop and recognize our collective loss. Many were unable to be with their loved ones in hospitals or nursing homes when they passed away, and the pandemic often prevented families and communities from coming together to mourn those they lost. We all want to move on from the pandemic, but in our rush to return to normalcy we may have robbed ourselves of the time we need to process the many layers of trauma that we’ve experienced over the past two years.

In addition to these losses, we have all been affected by the pandemic in many different ways. Whether it is lingering symptoms from the infection, disrupted educational or professional goals, or displaced social networks, the pandemic affected nearly every aspect of our lives. Those who were minimally scathed or never infected by Covid-19 have nevertheless experienced disrupted rhythms of life that have contributed to increasing levels of anxiety, depression, and other psychological distress. Finally, many of our health care workers are experiencing post-traumatic effects from their heroic efforts on the front lines of the pandemic, where they saved countless members of our communities but also were the last present with many of the 11,000 Arkansans we lost.

This is why we are asking you, our community and faith leaders, to organize and lead a day of reflection and healing in your communities. This will provide an opportunity for community members to come together to acknowledge the lasting pain from the pandemic and show those who are grieving that they are not alone. It will also be an opportunity to thank those who have made a difference in our lives during the pandemic and to offer hope and courage to those who are struggling to cope.

“I urge leaders across the state to heed our board’s call,” said ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson. “A pandemic is different from most disasters in that it does not have a clearly defined point where the tragedy ends and healing can begin. For the sake of our mental health, we need to take time to pause and reflect on what we’ve been through and the people we’ve lost.”