Three days after thousands of lives were lost on 9/11, the United States marked a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance. Church bells rang out. Candlelight vigils lit up the darkest of nights. People gathered in houses of worship and on street corners to mourn — and to remember.

Three days after the Boston Marathon bombings, as hundreds of gravely injured remained in nearby hospitals, an interfaith prayer service brought a measure of comfort and healing to a city that grieved as one.

As a nation, as a people, we have always found solace in the ritual of mourning and of remembrance: the candles, the church bells, the gentle words, the flowers left to mark a spot where a life ended. When tragedy strikes — a terror attack, a natural disaster, a lone gunman with his sights set on an elementary school filled with children — we take the time to grieve.

So how to wrap our heads around the number of deaths wrought by this pandemic? How to look at the 100,000 lives lost in the U.S. and absorb the enormity and rapidity of that loss? Because without acknowledging that loss, without letting it seep into our very souls, we will never be able to truly heal and eventually put behind us the daily trauma of watching that death toll mount.

The moment cries out to be marked by a National Day of Mourning and Remembrance, a time to acknowledge those who have been lost to us forever and to honor those whose commitment and sense of duty under trying circumstances has kept alive so many more.