India

Coronavirus | Online memorial to COVID-19 victims going live on January 30


It is an attempt to allow people across the country to grieve and possibly even heal together, says NGO volunteer

Photographs, obituaries and blogs written by relatives or friends of COVID-19 victims. An online national memorial, conceived for those who died of COVID-19 across the country, goes live on Saturday, an initiative by a Kolkata-based NGO comprising medical fraternity and others.

“COVID-19 snatched the opportunity for families to bid a traditional goodbye to their loved ones who they lost to the virus, so this unique venture is an attempt to allow people across the country to grieve and possibly even heal together. Grief is a very private emotion. But, through this website, we hope people will realise that they are not alone,” said Abhijit Chowdhury, a volunteer with Covid Care Network (CCN), an NGO led by a group of doctors spearheading this initiative.

The initiative, he said, was born out of the COVID-19 gloom that enveloped the world last year.

“COVID took away family members in a merciless manner where we could not even bid farewell. With this digital memorial, we can keep the memories of loved ones with us forever. The memorial will be a space for thousands of Indians and their families,” he said.

The website — https://www.nationalcovidmemorial.in — would display photographs, obituaries and blogs in memory of individuals written by relatives or friends, after going through an editing and authentication process. Relevant material may be sent to nationalcovidmemorial@gmail.com or submitted directly at the website. “We may need an accompanying certificate of death for regulatory reasons only,” Dr. Chowdhury said.

The volunteers added that the venture would help society as a whole, as the emotional toll that COVID-19 takes when the deceased are denied a dignity of exiting can be traumatic.

‘“The unceremonious, unsung manner of doing this [bidding the final goodbye] has had an emotional cost. We are just sending the message across, and we now have people sending in photographs and obituaries as well as blogs for the site,” Dr. Chowdhury added.

He said the NGO was ready with infrastructure to handle the huge volume of information that could come their way. “There is an editorial team and a digital team, and we are guided by a panel of advisers of persons of eminence from different walks of life across the country. Authenticity of information is cross-checked with data and a certificate of demise,” he said.

Dr. Chowdhury added that an important challenge for the group would be to get “stories of the people who were not tech-savvy and belonged to a relatively marginalised segment of society”.

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