By Julia Maher ’23
The coronavirus pandemic will probably be one of those events in history in which people divide their lives into two separate timelines: life before and life after. We are living in an unprecedented time of illness, which also means that the social and economic effects in our society will be unprecedented for years to come. We should not, therefore, expect our lives to revert back to our notion of “normal” once the pandemic ends, since our lives after will be very different from our lives before the pandemic.
The shock and impact of the coronavirus pandemic will travel farther and last longer than we would like to admit. Possibly, it will take us years to endure the traumatic and emotional effects of the pandemic, including the isolation from social distancing measures and the paranoia about shaking hands and touching objects. These are not the only effects of the pandemic, however; the economic damage caused by the outbreak will also make itself visible in our society long after the end. In fact, some economists project that the economy will not even gain some semblance of its prior identity until a decade or so after the pandemic—and even then, it is naive to believe that the economy will simply and easily bounce back to normal.
There are two main possibilities for what might occur socially once the pandemic ends—either people will adapt to the concept of social distancing and not gather socialize as often as during life before, or people will overcompensate for the they missed during quarantine and hyper-socialize. Possibly, the latter situation is more likely. Either way, life after will be drastically different from life before. We need to allow ourselves to grieve what “normal” means to us, rather than suppressing our emotions. Once we relinquish our false notion that life will quickly return to normal, then we can allow ourselves to grieve our lives before and align ourselves emotionally with reality.