Over the last 7 months, I’ve heard a lot of things in relation to the pandemic. Some have been said directly to me and some not. Either way, I wanted to compile a handy list of things people really shouldn’t ever say to someone who has a disability or who is high risk for COVID and why it’s insensitive or careless to say them.
“You have to live your life.” While I understand the thought behind this, it insinuates that we are somehow choosing to stay cooped up and be miserable. But because so many people don’t take the pandemic seriously, we really don’t have a choice. If we want to live, we have to stay indoors as much as possible. That’s not to say we shouldn’t still find things that bring us joy that are also safe. I drive thru and get coffee once a week. I’ve had friends over one at a time in my backyard, wearing masks and sitting far apart. We just don’t want to be told we should be saying screw it to the virus and going out and doing whatever because it won’t be living our life, it could potentially take it instead.
“Well it only kills about 1% of the population.” This is really something no one should say period. Almost 230,000 people have died from COVID. That’s 230,000 friends, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, parents, spouses, or significant others. COVID is now one of the leading causes of death across the globe and especially in the US. And for those of us who would most certainly die or have severe, permanent complications if we got COVID, we could potentially make up a big chunk of that 1%. So just because it may not kill you or you haven’t been directly affected by it, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care, and it definitely doesn’t entitle you to make such callous remarks.
“I don’t have to wear a mask. It’s not my job to protect you.” Where does one start with this? This is the attitude that’s gotten us where we are at in this country in the first place. So should we all just start driving recklessly and not following the laws of the road because we don’t need to protect you either because your life is not our responsibility? Maybe it’s not your job to protect me, but if you’re actually ok with the fact that your actions might kill any of us with disabilities or are high risk…well then you’re just an asshole.
“People need to take some personal responsibility and eat well and exercise so they won’t get the virus”. This is a nice idea for everyone who is able bodied. But for those of us who aren’t able to exercise, we can’t work out until our immunity goes up. Many of us can’t work out at all or it can make our disability or weakness worse. This won’t work for people with autoimmune disorders either. When you have a disability or are high risk, there’s nothing eating well and exercise are going to do to help us not potentially die from COVID. Also, many of the people who have died from COVID or even just gotten it have been young people who were active and ate well. So please keep your ignorance to yourself.
“Are you up to anything fun this weekend?” This one is definitely well-meaning and I think it’s one I might take too personally, but every time I’ve been asked this question since March, I get a giant knot in my stomach. Everyone’s definition of fun is different, but while others talk about whatever weekend trip they went on or people they saw, my answer is always “no” because it has to be. I’ve seen a few friends but otherwise, I don’t have a choice but to stay home as much as I can in order to stay safe. So the answer to this question is not likely to be “yes” for quite a long time. I think it’s just good to be sensitive to your audience when you ask this question.
These are just a handful, but I think they get the point across. We are all struggling with COVID (those of us that care at least). No one likes this. No one wants to have to sacrifice so much. I miss my old life everyday. I miss hugs. I miss so much. But the least we can all do is try to be sensitive of each other and not make it worse by saying things that basically communicate that we don’t care about each other. I want to survive this and I want as many people as possible to survive this too.
Wishing everyone health and happiness.