A Look Back at 2020 -What We Lost in the Pandemic

Early on in the year 2020 when the pandemic began silently taking its toll on the world, I started making a list of things that we lost either temporarily or permanently. Even though we all hoped and expected that things would get back to normal much more quickly, it was still clear by spring that this would be a year like no other. As I look back at 2020 I’m amazed at all the changes that happened in our world.

A Year of Losses

New York Times Coronavirus Per Capita U.S. Map

One of the early expressions of outrage in America that I remember was that high school and college graduation ceremonies were going to be canceled. How could these teenagers and young adults survive without this rite of passage? How could we deprive them of this once in a lifetime event? Soon we learned that this was just the tip of the iceberg and we would come to realize that a graduation ceremony was the least of our problems.

A Look Back at 2020’s New Vocabulary

As the weeks went on we learned new words and met new people who came to the forefront during this tumultuous year. I began writing down those things that we were being introduced to as well. I don’t personally have any grandchildren to pass this down to, but I encouraged teens and young adults that I knew to keep a journal during this crazy time. These are the days that your descendants will want to know about and with so much going on, it’s easy to forget all the changes that happened as the months unfolded in 2020.

My Personal Perspective

Early in the year, I was shocked at the range of opinions and beliefs that were being spoken by our leaders and repeated in the media, social media, and even in personal conversations about the changes going on around us. This isn’t meant to be a political statement and I’m sure that many will disagree with my perceptions and opinions. Your perspective may be different and I’m not here to argue about it.

I’ve intentionally left out some of the more controversial terms and topics in an effort to avoid stoking the fires of division. I’ll admit that there will still be some people who find certain phrases to be objectionable, but I’m sharing my reality and perspective from where I sit.

My view is focused on what I’ve seen in my own country, the United States. Other countries have been different, so I’m only focusing on America.

A Look Back at 2020 Losses

Clearly, this is only a partial list of what came to mind for me. There are over 100 items in alphabetical order. Feel free to share your ideas in the comments. Some of these were lost temporarily and others were lost forever. Some had a huge economic impact and others were just a blip on the proverbial screen. Many of these losses will leave deep life-long scars and others were minor inconveniences, but each one was a loss to someone or many someones. It’s also interesting to note that some of these losses may actually end up bringing positive change.

No wonder so many people are grieving this year and looking forward to 2020 being over.

What We Lost in 2020 in the U.S.

More than 343,000 precious human lives from COVID-19
3 million deaths in the country overall (the most ever)
Ahmaud Arbery
Airline travel
Auto racing audiences
Ballet — live
Barbeques
Bars and alcohol
Baseball spectators
Basketball spectators
Beach parties
Bedside vigils
Birthday parties
Bowling
Breonna Taylor
Bus travel
Business meetings — in person
Business travel
Cheerleading
Choirs
Christmas gatherings
Church services — in person
Civility
College campus activities
College entrance exams (SAT/ACT)
Commutes to work
Conferences
Cruise ships
Dance
Daycare
Dental visits
Doctor visits
Elective medical procedures
Exercise classes
Eye exams
Fact-based decisions
Farewell performances
Field trips
Fitness Gyms
Food festivals
Football spectators
Full elevators
George Floyd
Graduation celebrations & ceremonies
Group tours
Gymnastics
Hair Salons
Hall of Fame Induction celebrations
Halloween parties
High school Senior shenanigans
Historical sites
Hockey Spectators
Holiday parties
Hugs
Indy 500 audience
Jet setting
Jobs by the millions
Judgment
Kentucky Derby parties and attendees
Kids’ city sports
Kisses

Memorial services — in person
Last rites
Little League
Life expectancy (decreased)
Live audiences
March Madness
Movie theaters
Museums
Music Festivals
Musical Theatre
Nail salons
National parks
Office parties
Olympics
Opera
Orchestras
Pageants
Personal Space at Home
PGA & LPGA Golf Spectators
Physical therapy
Pick-up basketball games
Playgrounds
Pop Warner Football
Preschool
Pro sports draft events
Quality of Life
Rational thinking
Recovery programs — in person
Red Carpet Premiers
Restaurant Dining
Retirement parties
Rock Concerts
Ruth Bader Ginsberg
School
Shopping
Subway travel
Summer Camp
T-ball
Thanksgiving gatherings
Theatre
Toilet Paper

Train travel
TV Show Live Audiences
Umpires
University classrooms
Visiting hospitals
Working at the office
X-mas
Yuletide Carolers
Zeitgeist

What Moved to the Forefront in 2020

As the year ends and I look back at 2020 I see all the new terminology I learned, the new faces I met through the news, the organizations and causes that were on the fringes that I became aware of, and I realize what a growing year it was. Sometimes growth is painful and I wouldn’t wish a repeat of 2020 on anyone, but I’m thankful for the chance to look at the world through new eyes. I hope you’ve had a chance to learn something new too in this crazy year.

As with the other list, everything here isn’t brand new and some things were only temporary, but each item was in focus at one time or another when I look back at 2020. Everything wasn’t related to the pandemic or politics either. We had record-setting years for hurricanes and wildfires on top of everything else. Imagine having to live in an emergency shelter during this time?

We Found the Good As Well

And let’s not forget that there were amazing accounts of people caring for others despite the horrific circumstances. Front line workers fought and died for those who contracted the dreadful disease. Essential workers gathered, prepared, transported, stocked, served, and delivered our food. Teachers, firefighters, police, EMTs, city service workers, public transportation operators, and delivery drivers risked their lives to keep us as safe and connected as possible.

Yo-Yo Ma’s “Songs of Comfort” Project brought solace and peace into our living rooms. John Krasinski brought us “Some Good News”. Neighbors encouraged, supported, and serenaded their neighbors. Healthcare workers were applauded from the streets. Family members visited their elders even when a window had to separate them. The oldest and youngest among us learned new skills like video chatting and wearing a mask. Folks even found ways to pay it forward while waiting in line by paying for the purchase of the person behind them.

Some developments may be viewed as negative and others positive, depending on your perspective. The truth is, they are what they are and our country and the world have changed because of them. How does this list make you feel? Depressed, hopeful, frustrated, exhausted, victorious? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Here’s my next list with well over 100 phrases from 2020.

A Look Back at 2020 — What Came Into Focus

19.8 Million+ COVID-19 Cases
Absentee Ballots
Alcohol consumption limits
Antibody testing
Anti-vaxxers
AstraZeneca COVID Vaccine
Bankruptcy
Biden as President-elect
Black Lives Matter
Cancel Culture
Capacity Limits
Cardboard stadium fans
Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
Cocktails to Go
Comorbidities
Confederate Monuments
Confederate names removed
Congressional gridlock
Contact tracing
Convalescent plasma
Coronavirus
COVID-19
Curbside Pickup
Cyberattacks
Dirt cheap airfares
Distance Learning
Drive-by celebrations
Dr. Birx
Dr. Fauci
Division
Domestic Violence
Dying alone
Elbow bump
Election security
Enhanced cleaning ratings for lodging
Emergency Use Authorization
Essential Workers
Eviction
Election Conspiracy Theories
First Black & Asian American Vice President

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Food Banks
Freedom
Front-line workers
Georgia recount and runoffs
Global warming
Grandparents’ safety
Greek-named Hurricanes
Grief
Hand sanitizer
Healthcare shortages
Hiring freeze
Home Delivery
Homelessness
Hurricanes — record-breaking season
ICU beds
Impeachment
Injustice
Isolation
Joe Biden
Jose Andres feeds America
Judgment
Kamala Harris
Kidnapping Plot
Killers
Kindness
Lawsuits by the President
Learning online
Lockdowns
Mail-in Ballots
Mask debates and divisions
Moderna COVID Vaccine
National Institute of Health (NIH)
NBA Bubble
New Virus Variants
Occupancy Limits
Online Meetings
Outdoor Dining Bubbles
Operation Warp Speed
Pandemic
Pardons
Pfizer COVID Vaccine
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

President Trump gets COVID
Protests
Qanon
Quacks
Quality time
Quarantine
Quiet
Racial Injustice
Rapid Response Testing
Refrigerated morgue trailers
Relief Bills
Restaurant Closures
Sanitizer
SARS-CoV-2
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome — Coronavirus 2
Scientists
Six feet apart
Social distancing
Some Good News — John Krasinski
Stadium crowd-noise soundtracks
Stay-at-home orders
Streaming
Super-spreader events
Supporting local businesses
Supporting minority-owned businesses
Supreme Court
Symptoms — loss of taste and smell
Task Force
Tear gas
Telehealth
Temperature checks

Temporary Hospitals
Testing
TikTok
Travel Bans & Restrictions
Trump Rallies
Uncertainty
Undermining Democracy
Unemployment
United States unraveling
Upheaval
USNS Comfort and Mercy Ships
Vaccine
Ventilators
Virtual classrooms
Virtual concerts
(Virtual) events
Virtual tours
Virtual Workouts
Wash your hands
Wet Market
Wildfires
World Health Organization (WHO)
Working from home
Wuhan China
Xenophobia
Yoga at home
Zoom

Where Do We Go From Here?

Now what? What will you do with all of this change? Sadly things aren’t going to magically change back to the way it was in 2019 on New Years Day. In fact, all indications are that it will get much worse before it gets better.

Are you someone who will embrace change and make the best of it or will you fight tooth and nail to resist and get back to “normal” and the way it was without sacrificing for others? Did you feel like you were deprived of your freedoms or did you willingly embrace the restrictions in light of the common good?

Did We Pass The Test?

I believe that this year was a huge test for our country and I’m not sure we got a passing grade. We have so much room for improvement. I plan to take some time to examine what I can do to make the world and myself better in 2021. My desire is to be more unselfish, more philanthropic, and less judgmental as a start, but there’s so much more to look at.

I hope to make each day count and I hope you do as well. It’s clear that generations to come are counting on us to do all we can to get it right. I don’t believe in resolutions, but I’d love to hear your goals for the new year, whether big or small. Thanks for taking a look back at 2020 with me. It may have been dark and ugly at times but here’s hoping that 2021 will be brighter.

Originally published at https://travelingwithpurpose.com on December 30, 2020.

I’m a travel and lifestyle blogger at https://Travelingwithpurpose.com. I love learning, photography, creativity, studying people and sharing my discoveries.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store