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Losing a Parent During a Pandemic

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

Nothing can truly prepare you for losing a parent, and nothing can prepare you for losing a parent during a pandemic. My dad passed away on April 4, 2020 after a battle with cancer and years of health issues. A part of me always knew that my dad wouldn’t get to stay on earth with us as long as I’d like given his health, but I wasn’t ready, especially during the Coronavirus.

In ways my trauma from 2011 has better prepared me for all other traumas that have followed and unfortunately losing a loved one is not a foreign concept to me. I lost my grandparents (on my mom’s side) in 2016 and 2018. To say I was close with my grandma would be an understatement, we had a best friend like bond and losing her was one of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced. I supported my ex-boyfriend when he lost his father unexpectedly in 2016. Watching and helping him through his grief and pain was unlike anything I could imagine, until I lost my own dad this month.

My dad and I never had the fairytale father-daughter relationship you see in movies and all girls dream about, but he is still my dad. We had a rollercoaster relationship my entire life, but I always knew he loved me. To lose a loved one during a pandemic opens up so many unimaginable wounds: we can’t truly honor his life due to travel restrictions; no one gets to say goodbye; and there’s so many questions as to what happened during his final days when he was alone in the hospital.

From trauma I’ve learned to always find lessons or ways to grow from every experience. From my dad’s journey to the other side I’m taking away three things:

  1. Truly embrace and honor all relationships in your life: good, bad or otherwise. Learn lessons and value what that relationship is here to teach you regardless of the length. While my relationship with my dad was never perfect I was fortunate to experience a relationship with my dad for 28 years, an honor some never get, for that I’m thankful.

  2. Share all of your emotions and honor them: I’ve never been one to ask for help or share my hurdles in life with loved ones until after the hurdle has passed. No one can get through life alone, community and support are crucial to success. I’m being more open about my emotions that we may view as unpleasant like sadness, fear and pain. I’m allowing others to help me grieve and heal.

  3. Live for today: I’m a very future-oriented and “planner” type person, my dad’s passing has truly grounded me into living in the present and being thankful for each day and the little blessings in life.

Like my trauma from 2011 I’ll always live with unanswered questions about my dad’s passing, but I’ve chosen to not focus on that. I’ve chosen to focus on honoring his time here, and embracing all future experiences that will follow. Even though my dad won’t get to experience my future wedding, get to meet any future grandchildren or share special moments with my brothers and I he did get to experience our lives up until April 4, 2020. While we feel the time was cut short, it was still time, time that many don’t get. Time to be thankful for. There are still memories, and there was still love shared. RIP Dad, 03.20.1959 - 04.04.2020.

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