Would it shock you to read that “only” 146 people died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire? It’s not a lot, really, but poets and peasants long ago figured out that death can’t be measured by numbers.
“A thousand” tsunami-drowned bodies wash up on Japan’s shore. “Hundreds of thousands” died in Haiti’s quake; global disease and starvation kill cool, statistical “millions.” Yet every mourner knows that one loss close to home can mean everything. In the math of death, all totals equal zero.