Six Months After My Dad Died Alone in Lockdown

i notice my heart is so much softer now.

the way i noticed father’s heart got after he watched mother suddenly drop dead in front of him one evening.

more accessible, more embodied.

my tuning into the real with another: even more acute.

connections that lack presence: diluted, unravelling.

less outrage, more softness

my capacity for small talk, much less.

my capacity for lack of empathy, lack of compassion – so much less.

my grief – now like a hangover, still gray and somewhat dazed in parts

yet more grounded somehow: brain fog much less

less exhaustion, but still tired,

less overwhelm, but still sensitive

the shock of the trauma finally dissipating after five months, osteo says.

and still, sorrow – amplified when i read about isolated elders in lockdown giving up on life, dying alone.

i notice my system is more sensitive now after the trauma,

the more stormy waves of grief more fragmented, yet still present

it is beyond the mind – visceral.

i notice my resistance to respond to anymore “how are you’s” by text – because when responded to, are not held,

only abandoned, dismissed – by silence.

i see how i am sometimes the reflection people don’t want to see:

of what happened, of what could happen, of what is coming, of being “too much”.

i see how some hide because our meeting will bring up their own grief

that they are trying so hard to suppress, including some of my own family members who’ve outcasted me in their quiet, skillful ways (that don’t get past me).

just as i intuited once father departed, the only one who truly got me and expressed how proud he was of the path i am walking.

now, just the black sheep of the family ever more, and so it Is

my brother shuts us out of our father’s suite from day one, as if our family hasn’t already been through enough – the stench of his patriarchal ways, rancid.

how can your own kin be so cold, i am so done.

i see how my usual role as a space holder still exists amongst my now fragmented tribe

yet space being held, not so much.

isolated before he died, isolated a month after he died.

now, my openness to space holder more particular, pointed.

more interested in a mutual healing container, a meeting point, more of an equilibrium in connecting

simply because i don’t have a lot to give right now,

still regaining my full capacity, still healing.

i once again observe how death, loss, and grief are such an isolated experience,

how asking for help is not received, because of the collective overwhelm and busy culture we live in.

mixed in with a lack of skill, capacity, capability

this is what our deathphobic culture does to its grieving people,

perhaps unknowingly, perhaps out of ignorance, perhaps intentionally – a little bit of everything, nothing.

with no readily available structures in place to clue in to the depths of the death/loss/grief experience,

left to struggle alone amid the stormy waves of this ocean of grief,

you think you are prepared for it, but when it bursts into your life – only then do you realize it is beyond the depth of anything you can ever prepare for.

i see how the structure of the collective global culture thrives on keeping its people stressed and depressed

a kind of dumbing down to control and conquer (the old colonial way)

status quo, indoctrinated.

i am reminded by one of my teachers that this is a dense two-year process, grief.

and i am only a quarter of the way through. deep inhalation, slow, elongated exhalation. repeat.

i can’t believe it’s been a half a year since my father died alone in lockdown –

that blows my mind

it feels like it happened much more recently in many ways

likely because the pandemic restrictions he and his family got entangled in, ambushed by – are still going on,

elders, still dying alone every day – giving up on life due to the extreme isolation.

the restrictions all around me triggering me at times – simply because they are the very restrictions that forced our father to give up on life – and die alone.

still heart-wrenching – that shit doesn’t just go away.

i feel my sense of self worth, self respect, dignity – sharp.

i matter, my feelings matter, this loss matters.

(even if there’s no one available to hold this with me.)

because of the extraordinary circumstances at the time – the death was traumatic,

which subsequently dished out what is termed, “traumatic grief” and “complicated grief”.

i notice how this experience is such a contrast to my mother’s departure: then, no pandemic; no lockdown; no isolation; sangha available and holding me; long, warm healing hugs all the time; significant other present; day job culture happening.

i see how in each of my parent’s deaths, i was not be with them at the end.

my heart and soul home in my ancestral land, out of reach presently

beloved love of my life father out of reach from the moment i landed back here, to the moment he died: a 25 day span.

friends and community still unable to connect with me in the flesh – among other reasons, due to covid adherence

others unable to hug me for the same reason(s)

how do you not hold a loved one who has been through a trauma like this? i really don’t get it. (even though somehow i get it, devastated.)

this build up is feeling heart crushing these days, so tired and depleted from lack of connection, hug deprivation rampant

grievers need to be held. how does that continue to happen amid a pandemic? it doesn’t.

connections lost in the virus fumble.

the collective overwhelm of the global pandemic/george floyd murder/systemic racism/climate crisis/usa political upheaval, etc. – all overlay my father dying alone in lockdown. the timing – devastating. as an empath – i too feel it all.

that has been the core of this grief experience – him dying alone, being barred from being with him all those weeks, no goodbyes, no closure, no last rites, and all the isolation before and after,

it’s been a lot to hold, a lot to carry.

i am astounded by the weight of this ask,

reflecting on a life in which i have held so much, so many times

but apparently i was ready for it, because it is what happened – some would say, many would say, i might’ve once said. perhaps i will one day say again. in this moment, i now notice where some outrage still lies. some awfully bitter pills are just really painful to digest.

my father represented so much to me, represents so much to me.

his departure has initiated so much in me that i have not even begun to comprehend

the isolated death and grief unfolding has created a slow, dense process in me that i cannot think my way through, only feel my way through, amid this full-body experience

now slowly beginning to step back into my life, as this someone else trying on the pieces of that other life

there’s so much that doesn’t fit anymore, so much that i will no longer tolerate.

and. something else awaiting me that i don’t quite know yet: this is the absolute surrender.

embodied being. no more disassociation of experience. fuck spiritual bypassing.

i can sit here and list all the things i am grateful for, in terms of what my father embedded in me – but,

i already did that in my eulogy to my father.

i will not emphasize that here again, because that would be forced

and i am about the authenticity of this moment

and right now, it looks like this.

in all its aliveness.

i could sit here and try to muster up what i’ve learned, but honestly, i am not there yet, too early on this particular journey of trauma and complicated grief.

but having been through a number of major obstacles, i know there may be teachings revealed, later.

in the mean time, i will not pump positivity –

because there’s absolutely nothing positive about your beloved dying alone in lockdown.


i notice these days how i am so acutely tuned into the breath,

how it’s helping me to heal, the somatic breath particularly,

how everything always comes back to this moment,


coming back to the breath,

the moment, This.

slowly, carefully, leading me to somewhere,

now, fully in trust of the form that will come through This

whenever that is, amid the varied discomfort in getting there, here.

as i continue to navigate the waves of this particular part of the grief journey.

it’s a time of deep and massive refinement, a major shake up – internally and externally.

some experiences are defining moments.

they change you, and you are never ever the same.

this is one of them.

~ satya

(image: Pinterest)

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