It has been 18 months that Covid entered our lives like an uninvited guest and has stayed way past its expected duration. Just as we thought it was leaving, it danced the dance of destruction and left us devastated as a community, as a nation, as humanity. And yet underneath the pain of it all, one can’t help but notice the slow but certain change it is bringing about. I am not sure if it is an inner transformation, but it does seem to be epic change (if I am to use the lingo correctly).
One of the most obvious fallouts is the ‘collective grief’ that we are all feeling. The second wave came like a tsunami, and it has touched every person we know. There are stories of families being wiped off, children being orphaned, loss of young friends and colleagues. Whether we admit it or not, we are all in mourning.
Out of Our Control
Many of us live life with goals and plans. We want to achieve things. Organizations do the same. Now we have seen the most well-laid out plans come to nothing. We have seen how much out of control we are. I have heard instances of people who did not step out of the house for a year and still were infected with COVID 19.
This loss of control, loss of predictability of life is making us question life itself. We have started questioning our drive, our ambition. We have started questioning our goals. What mattered in the past seems meaningless. A senior executive I am coaching, said to me, “Of what use is your money, your status, your network when ultimately, they all fail in the face of this disease? What is it that truly matters?”
Shift in Perspective
In that way, COVID19, has created transformation, in many people. For example, everyone who has had COVID, survived, and is still fighting the post-covid effects, like me, is looking at their body differently. Just a simple transformation in terms of valuing your body, your lungs breathing, getting 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep! Another level of transformation is that “Oh, I’ve survived! So, there must be a reason for that and what is life calling me to do now.”
The life of caregivers is shifting too. If their loved one has passed away, that grief itself has become a cause of a new kind of life, in some way or the other. It is making people reach out to others with a similar experience or to give back or to some spiritual awakening. Young widows are reaching within and searching for their empowered selves as they prepare themselves for life ahead. And if the loved one has survived, there is a newfound appreciation for the importance of their well-being. Nothing else seems to matter.
The collective suffering and grief has made people dig into themselves and find compassion and love. It has activated kindness inside us. Initially, the entire talk was about anger and blame to the government & to the ill-equipped system. Slowly, as we started seeing the mass pain, the narrative shifted. It transformed into “What can I do? Can I just sit on the side and watch this? Or do I have another role to play in this? I have suffered, but can I reduce someone else’s suffering? Can I impact in a small way?”
And it’s fascinating to see the way people have activated their kindness. They are volunteering, whether to get medicine or oxygen concentrators, setting up oxygen centers, catering food for covid ridden families, collecting funds for orphans, creating support groups, or helping widows find jobs. The community of life and leadership coaches that I am a part of, is helping people deal with their grief and mental well-being. In whatever way possible, people are channeling their compassion for practical outcomes. I think that’s the best gift of COVID 19. It has put us in touch with our humanity again.
We have changed the way we look at strangers. Strangers can help us, strangers are not to be avoided, and it has helped discover the interconnectedness of life. Just to give you an example, the day my oxygen levels started dropping, my brother’s friend’s wife, whom I have never met, sent her car to deliver an oxygen concentrator to my house. And then my sister-in-law’s school friend reached out and got us a bed in a hospital. My cousins who are doctors in USA reached out to the doctor community and there was a senior pulmonologist there, whom I don’t know, who was guiding my husband on my treatment plan both during and post my hospitalization.
How did this happen? Why did this set of complete strangers go so much out of their way to help another human being who they will probably never meet? I think this happened only because, we are all feeling interconnected. It is becoming okay to seek support and to offer it, without second- guessing. This collective experience has made us realize that we are all part of the same universe, the same humanity. We have been awakened from our stupor of disconnection and been made to see the common thread of life that runs through us.
Therefore, when I came back home from hospital, I marveled at the chain of events and the acts of kindness of so many people who are just strangers to me. I was filled with deep gratitude to life itself. Not only the gratitude of being alive but the gratitude of being inter-connected with all these people who in some way led to my getting better.
I don’t think that any covid survivor who went to the hospital, will ever be able to forget those nurses and doctors in PPE Kits in peak summer treating us and working 12hrs shift. Or all those guardian angels who prayed for us when we suffered. Or the ones, who worked in their factories during the pandemic to manufacture the life- saving medicines that were administered to us.
And I think if anyone, sufferer or caregiver, really closes their eyes and thinks about it, there will be a knowing, that things could have been much worse than they are right now and that itself creates a sense of deep gratitude. Living in gratitude is transformation too.
Yoshita Swarup Sharma:
Founder & CEO - A Brighter Life | ICF Certified Executive Coach | Leadership facilitator | NLP Practitioner| Inner Transformation Specialist
Yoshita Swarup Sharma, CEO & Co-Founder of A Brighter Life, is an internationally certified executive coach (PCC). For the last eleven years, she has coached several senior leaders and CXO across the variety of industries and organizations. Recently she was awarded as one of the most influential coaching leaders of India by the World HRD Congress. She's a leadership facilitator, advanced NLP Practitioner and a specialist on personal transformation. She writes her blog from her own experiences and reflections . She brings with her 23 years of overall work experience and has previously worked as a Marketing professional in corporates like Coca-Cola, Dabur and Ranbaxy She's also a Kathak student and co-founder of Subah, A Covid Widow support group
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