Grieving During a Pandemic

A little over six months ago I lost my father quickly and unexpectedly. I’m still going through every single emotion you can think of—anger, frustration, anxiety, and a deep-seeded anger. This especially happens when I see others get to enjoy life with their dads present. That’s not to say mine still isn’t—I’ve experienced a few-death interactions, especially when I’m having a hard time. Plus, physically here or not, those emotions and thoughts I have represent his presence in a way. Sure, a different way than I’m used to…but he’s there.


But then something else got thrown into the mix: Covid-19. Weddings, funerals, travel, and just being able to interact with our friends and family in the ways we are used to were all canceled or dramatically altered. Yes, I can Facetime with family, but now that’s my only option. I can’t see my mom, who is living alone now and at the age where Covid could be life or death for her. I can advise her to not go out, but even our post-LA Marathon/birthday dinner at my apartment at the beginning of March seems like a life time ago.


I’m now forced to isolate at a time when I need people most. And that doesn’t have to mean conversation with friends, but even being out and about in the world surrounded by people is helpful. It reminds me that I’m not alone. But even that is gone, and instead I’m left with my mind and fewer true distractions. Inside my apartment, I’m reminded daily of my dad and what happened. Just cleaning out my cabinet, a task a lot of us are doing right now, resulted in me coming across my copy of his death certificate. I play video games and they remind me of how he’d play a car racing or golf game on my XBOX with me when he came over. Washing the dishes reminds me of him, because he’d do mine when he was here and complain about how my dishtowels were too small for him (I don’t understand either). Going for a walk or run reminds me of him as I have no other choice but to go past the hospital where he died. Organizing and cleaning my yard reminds me of the many BBQs we’d have out there—and by BBQ I mean, I’d purchase the ingredients and he’d grill. But I was there with words of encouragement and a beer.


But how do I deal with grieving my dad, and now this extreme change in the world not even a year later? I’m only just now trying to pick up the pieces and build a routine again (and generally failing). Now, I have to create a routine while juggling both Covid and dad.


Most days, nothing helps. I still wake up with that sinking feeling in my stomach that something is missing and life is not normal as it was before. I first remember my dad is dead and then that we’re still all self-isolating. But what I do try to do, and what has helped the most, is creating a daily schedule. My world has been flung in various directions more than once within 6 months in big ways, so this helps keep my days a little more meaningful. I wake up a certain time (except when I hit snooze 3x), schedule time to relax (and I have a list for that too), work out at 7 pm, and various other tasks all in specific blocks of time. I use an app to help visualize this—plus it’s fun to see just what you’ve completed when you didn’t think you could. But you can write out the list in your phone or on paper. You may not need as strict of an outline as mine, but I need to be told what is coming next. I can’t leave my mind to wander or have the opportunity to isolate within.


Most of all (and this is for me too), remember grief comes in many forms. Yes, I’m grieving my dad, but I’m also grieving the loss of seeing my nephews make their communion. It’s all difficult, and you may not know what to do if grief is hitting you from all directions. Truthfully, beyond what I wrote here, I don’t know either. But we can try together.


Remember, we are here for you. Grief resources can be found here