The COVID-19 pandemic is an eye-opening experience for everyone in today's society - one that will, no doubt, be included in the history books of the future.
There are so many aspects to this pandemic - loss of jobs, loss of financial livelihood, loss of socialization.
But among those are several groups of people who have had to adjust their entire lifestyles and family traditions.
While we herald the frontline workers who deal with potential infection from this evil virus, there are still families dealing with death not related to the COVID-19 outbreak. But the highly contagious virus has restricted families from hosting the traditional wakes and funeral services to which they are accustomed during this trying time. While these private services prohibit friends, co-workers and associates from the chance to express their condolences and support, the "limited group" restriction may well interfere with extended family members attending the final service of a loved one. A family with multiple children may be the only people allowed to participate in a service unless the extended family practices social distancing at a graveside service. How horribly sad for everyone involved in such a tragic experience!
But as much as death is part of our life experiences, so is the cancellation of events that have previously been measured as milestones in the lives of our young people.
The coronavirus has resulted in the cancellation of in-person education and the adjustment of students completing their required class hours for the remainder of the year. While parents now feel the full measure of trying to get children and teens to focus on their classwork, many students are remiss about the socialization opportunities allotted to them as part of their educational experience. Junior and senior students have missed out on prom, while middle school students will be denied their first "dress up" gala with their spring dances.
Just the everyday passing in the hallways or sitting together on buses or gathering at a local teen hangout has restricted the social activities of the youth in our community. The restrictions placed on Americans have resulted in the cancellation of many high school graduations this year, leaving parents, school officials and communities wondering what measures could possibly be taken to honor these students who have worked diligently to achieve their high school diplomas.
The cancellation of in-person classes in our school districts reaches even the youngest school children - all those who will not celebrate their kindergarten graduation or giving their friends and teachers a hug on the last day of school.
There are numerous options - although not all are feasible at this point of the Healthy at Home and social distancing requirements across Kentucky. Many people in the community have expressed an interest in a community-wide celebration that will still give the Class of 2020 the individual limelight that has always been a traditional part of the commencement exercises.
There is no doubt that our school officials will devise some system to recognize those graduating students - although it will definitely not be in the manner to which we have all become accustomed. There is no doubt that some individual(s) in our community will create some event to honor those students who have made sacrifices at their young ages that is unprecedented in the history of our nation and our world.
This historic but dark period in our lives should serve as inspiration for each of us to search our hearts, find the brightest gleam of hope hidden deep inside, and spread that joy and love to our friends and family - and to our younger generation.
We should never want the Class of 2020 to remember their first year of formal education or their final year of high school as "The Year That Wasn't."
Nita Johnson is a staff writer at the Sentinel-Echo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.