We are exiting the messy middle of COVID-19. With cases in Florida and America down about 50% ... now what?

Our great country has experienced a national trauma. When trauma strikes, there are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

First, we denied COVID-19 was a problem. Sure, it’s bad in China and Italy, but not in the good old USA. Don’t worry, COVID-19 will pass quickly and we will be back to a normal life in a few months. COVID-19 is not really different from the normal flu, and we handle that just fine. Oh, that first wave wasn’t so bad ... what’s everyone worried about?

Then we became angry. I’m not wearing a stupid mask. Why did those idiots in Washington, D.C., let it get this bad? Why did our politicians unnecessarily destroy so many of our local businesses while helping big business stay open?

Then we bargained. If the cases drop to a certain level, we will reopen. I will wear a mask and socially distance, but not forever. Maybe I can behave properly until I get a vaccine.

Then, as COVID-19 cases surged in late fall, riding a large third wave upward, we sank into a national depression. We stopped going out. We stopped spending money. The economy stalled as we became depressed with this seemingly never-ending battle with COVID-19.

Now, as we exit the worst wave yet, we perhaps are finally accepting just how bad the trauma was and that there may be yet another wave, hopefully just not as bad as the last one.

Many of us have suffered trauma during our lives. For about 85% of us, after a trauma, we gain perspective and meaning with the elapse of time. The open trauma wound becomes a scar. We don’t forget, but we gain inner strength and gratitude from our harsh experience.

Unfortunately, about 15% of Americans never fully recover from a trauma. The wound is continually torn open again and again through post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Those who have moved on and moved forward talk about the scars they still carry in the past tense, “I thought maybe my wife was going to die.” “I thought COVID-19 would never end.” “I thought my business was going bankrupt.”

For those who have not gotten past the trauma, the COVID-19 wound is still open and raw. They speak in the present tense. “I am bankrupt.” “I still miss my mom.”

Many of us are ready to put this COVID-19 trauma behind us. We want to quit talking about it. Quit reading about it. Quit thinking about it.

Those of us who emerge with perspective, gratefulness, meaning and renewed strength from this COVID-19 trauma need to be sensitive to those who have not recovered and may never recover.

I hope that this COVID-19 national trauma helped us to appreciate that every day is a gift. To build better health, physical and mental habits. To bond more closely as a country with this shared national trauma. To love those around us more deeply.

Please use some of the grace, patience and good humor we acquired or rediscovered during COVID-19 to understand and work with those who are not ready to move on.

Share your thoughts: David@D-R.Media.

David Dunn-Rankin is CEO of D-R Media, which owns the Highlands News-Sun and the Highlands Sun, as well as newspapers in Lake, Polk and Sumter counties. He can be reached at David@D-R.Media .