As I sit here typing this, I cannot help but wonder about those around me undergoing various levels of grief, due to their own Covid experiences.

One of the best ways I know how to let out my feelings or spread hope to others is by writing. I don’t do this often and rarely for the public eye, but I do hope that by putting my own experience out there, it could help others in the same boat.

The whole world has been grappling with Covid since last year. I won’t get into a detailed background on this since we’re all more than aware, but it’s been a long, long journey for all of us across the globe.

It is like walking through a long, dark tunnel with the ability to sometimes, see the light at the end of it, but just when you think you are reaching the end, the light seems to go off and the tunnel leads into almost an intersection of longer, darker routes with no light ahead.

India especially, has been at the helm of this pandemic – a huge population, a struggling healthcare system, extremely poverty and livelihoods impacted for millions. But  with all of this ongoing, there has been tremendous hope – healthcare workers fighting to their fullest extent, common people going out & supporting their own communities, organizations thinking about their employees’ wellbeing in ways we didn’t think possible, and families getting an opportunity to spend time with one another in lockdown after lockdown.

So how did Covid personally affect me?

A few weeks ago, I started showing the typical symptoms of a fever and body chills. I knew deep inside that it was Covid since we had recently interacted with my father-in-law, who had just tested positive.  In the few days that followed, my live-in help, my husband and daughter all turned out to be Covid positive too.

My daughter is a toddler, and we had just celebrated her 2.5-year birthday a few days prior to this. She is also the biggest advocate of masking up and had religiously not only worn her mask every time she stepped out of the house, but also asked others to mask up. She carried sanitizer with her everywhere and kept sanitizing her little hands after touching anything outside (the Covid generation will be all too familiar with this). So when I saw her test report stating that she had Covid, it shattered my world for a brief period of time.

I consider myself a strong person in general. My family and I have been through the toughest times together when I was a kid, so problems do not normally scare any of us for too long. I bounced back from my initial scare quickly. I immediately did what I know best when in any difficult situation – my Buddhist chanting, charting out a plan for the next few days & conversations with my strongest supporters – my husband, sister and parents.

This gave me the courage to fight on and deal with the situation calmly. What followed were a few difficult days with home isolation, managing household chores & a very active toddler – all while dealing with Covid symptoms of losing taste/smell/fever/weakness.

All of this apart – I want to acknowledge the huge amount of privilege that I have. My work (a new job I started only a few months back) gave me all the time off that I needed, with so much empathy that I am forever indebted to them. I was able to get nutritious, homemade food delivered at my doorstep, have video consultations with great doctors on call & have a strong support system to check-in daily with me. My husband, through the help of a friend, was able to organize a very comfortable hospital room for my father-in-law, at a time when hospitals were overcrowded and had hundreds of people on waitlists. Additionally, my organization gave 2 weeks off to the entire firm to focus on mental health & family well-being.  I am extremely grateful for all of this and cannot be more thankful.

We are still on the path to recovery (with some in the house having recovered faster than the others), but I am truly grateful that we have been able to move forward.

As people, we cannot live in isolation from what is happening around us. India is undergoing a crisis and I truly believe that it is our responsibility to help in whatever capacity possible. Just yesterday, I was talking to my husband about these lines from my college graduation speech that continue to hit home especially now– “Much is expected of those, to whom much is given”.

Let’s use this time to pause, reflect & give – starting with those immediately around us – your house help, your security teams, your community waste pickers, your local vegetable vendors. Send out food packages to those who are struggling & connect with nonprofits that are working relentlessly at this moment. Every effort counts.  You can do all this and more, all while being safe indoors & taking care of your loved ones.

Lastly, take care of yourselves. This has been a rough time and while I do not want to overwhelm you with messages reeking of toxic positivity and tell you to ‘stay positive’ (we have enough social media doing that), I want you to get the help you need in form of conversations with a trusted friend or seek professional help. There are multiple resources available out there, even free of cost – do what you need to do to keep yourself sane and take the vaccine when you’re eligible.

Binge on Netflix, play those virtual games, eat your favorite meals (tip the delivery boys extra) & drink up on your beverage of choice – we are still in that dark tunnel, riding it out. However, the light is visible – it may not be as near as we think, but it is definitely not as far as we imagine.

Hang in there – together, we’ve got this.