The Atlantic Daily: We’re Forgetting What Normal Was

A year into this pandemic, our brains are still trying to make sense of what’s happened to us.

Everything was normal, until it wasn’t. Last March, we scrambled home, used coffee mugs left on our desks, our worlds shrinking without time for a proper goodbye.

In the days, weeks, and months that followed, our “new normal” became just that. Now, a year later, our brains are both grieving and forgetting the lives we once lived.

  • We are still grieving our Last Good Days. “For me, it’s the last time I swam in the ocean,” our senior editor Julie Beck writes. “The way we turn those memories over and over is a symptom of grief.”

  • And forgetting what normal was. “I can’t stop noticing all the things I’m forgetting,” Ellen Cushing writes in her essay on how the late-stage pandemic is messing with our brains. “Sometimes I grasp at a word or a name.”

An illustration of a boy looking at a laptop, with an older woman on the screen holding up a worksheet

One question, answered: An anonymous reader writes in:

I’m trying to supervise my 9-year-old grandson through online learning. He has ADHD, is extremely smart, and gets bored with the slow pace set by the teacher, who’s trying valiantly to engage 28 different students.

Abby Freireich and Brian Platzer respond in our latest “Homeroom” column:

Begin by trying to re-create what would happen in the classroom. Contact his teacher, explain the situation, and ask whether he or she can provide additional work for your grandson.

Keep reading. Every Tuesday, Abby and Brian take questions from readers about their kids’ education. Have one? Email them at

Tonight’s Atlantic-approved isolation activity:

Sister Souljah, the author of The Coldest Winter Ever, a formative work of “street lit,” returns with a sequel after 22 years.

What to read if … you’d like to read about something—anything—other than the coronavirus:

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