Dr Rajani Jagtap from Maharashtra lost her husband, Dr Shridhar, to COVID last year. She started a support group to help hundred others like her to cope with grief.
This article has been sponsored by Facebook
”For Shridhar and I, Diwali was always big. It is a time when we reflect on both our Tamilian and Marathi cultures. Shridhar would always be incharge of making the chivda and I would make the rangoli. Every diwali was made special with lots of food and lots of love, until last year,” shares Mumbai-based Dr Rajani Jagtap, who set up a COVID Care Centre in Mulund, to battle the pandemic from the forefront.
Unfortunately, the doctor couple, while working relentlessly on the frontline, tested positive for COVID-19 in June 2020. A month later, Dr Shridhar lost the battle and passed away on 7 July 2020.
“My world came crashing down. Both my son’s were abroad and most of the relatives were away. The sense of isolation was incomprehensible. I wanted to be alone but was extremely lonely and wanted a caring shoulder to cry on. But I got nothing. I couldn’t even see my husband for the last time or perform his last rites. There was no closure. He was there and then he was not,” shares Dr Rajani who battled with her grief for months.
While seeking help through online counselling, a close friend and a clinical psychologist Divya Andar helped her come to terms with her grief. At this point, Dr Rajani realised that she is not the only one battling this sorrow.
The realisation that happiness grows and grief diminishes when shared, encouraged both Dr Rajani and Divya to start an online support group called Staying Alive, through a Facebook post on 17 August 2020.
“There weren’t many people in the first session but the impact was big. I was a participant as well sharing my story among all the others. I felt vulnerable but lighter to see that finally someone understood what this was like,” says Dr Rajani. Her support group on Facebook through regular therapy sessions including art therapy, inheritance legal advice, meditation, etc helps many like her, cope up with the loss of their loved ones.
Like most families experiencing loss, Dr Rajani too might have refrained from celebrating Diwali last year. It would have been yet another ordinary day, if not for her son who reminded her that it was also the festival of hope.
“A few years ago, I bought this Paithani sari with my husband but never wore it. He would’ve loved to see me in it. After my son encouraged me, I took a leap, wore that saree and lit up my house to celebrate the festival,” she says.
This year too, she and her pack from Staying Alive will be lighting candles in support of each other. Each one has battled and overcome immense grief and has found an avenue to cope through this community. Today, they are more than their grief, they are #MoreTogether.
This Diwali, Facebook through its campaign #MoreTogether is paying a tribute to individuals like Dr Rajani who channeled her sorrow to help others and create a positive impact.
They have launched a short film inspired by her journey to share the message of hope with people.The film is focused on showcasing how people can do more together by harnessing the power of communities and connections.
In these difficult times, Dr Rajani’s journey painted with raw and human moments of vulnerability, courage and hope continues to inspire many to remind themselves that no matter the difficulties, there always will be light at the end of the tunnel.