Tonight, people will gather around the world to mourn persons with disabilities killed by their caregivers. Some have loved ones who also remember and miss them. Many were kept so isolated by those who would eventually murder them that they were largely strangers to the world. Their memories are little more than names we read at vigils because they were ours, though we did not know them, and maybe an old school picture online. It’s good that we remember them. We wouldn’t be people, much less a people, if we didn’t remember our dead. While we mourn, though, we can’t forget the living.
If things go badly with healthcare and benefits law, more people will die in the months to come. There won’t be many colorful stories of violence to attract media attention. These deaths won’t make the news. We won’t hear about most of them. They will happen quietly in ERs, family homes, and nursing homes. People who are just barely hanging on at the margins with the access to services and care that they have now will fade away almost unnoticed. Many more will slide into a living death in facilities. The people we loose will look like the average person on a Day of Mourning vigil list: extremely vulnerable because of youth, age, or a significant impairment, isolated. They’re ours, too, whether or not we know them, and we owe them our loyalty, our advocacy. Care about them, too. If you live in the U.S. and are fortunate enough to be able to attend a vigil, think about reaching out to your representative first.