How the COVID-19 Pandemic is Reminding Me of My Father’s Death

The COVID-19 pandemic is traumatic for many people. In my case it reminds me of my Father’s death as he struggled to breath when his life was ending. When I process the pandemic the news reminds me of what I once saw in a hospital room in 2018. And this is happening even with boundaries and avoiding certain news stories. But this pandemic is unique and will one day by over as well.

“Trauma is a fact of life. It does not, however, have to be a life sentence.”

Peter Levine


On November 21 2018 I woke up to my sister standing next to me. “Dad is having problems breathing we have to go to the hospital.” It was 3:30 in the morning. I was tired and exhausted from my Dad’s illness. I went to sleep wearing most of the clothes the previous evening. So I really didn’t have to dress though I was groggy. We drove to St. Agnes hospital and walked inside. The hospital is like a maze and then we walked into the hospital room. One sister was sitting by the bed next to Dad. I stood before my Father and saw him laying on a medical bed. Sweating and breathing hard. His eyes looked like they were going to pop out of his socket and his breathing was labored. What I will never forgot is the sound. The sound coming from Dad’s windpipe. It was hard to listen to and I was at the end of my room. The time was probably 3:45 in the morning. I stood there for about 10 to 15 minutes and watched my Dad gasp for air and frustrated I told my sister that I was going to take a walk. I ended up in the chapel sitting in disbelief and in pain. An hour and a half later my sister called me and asked me to return to the room. It was around 5:30 and when I walked through the door the first thing she said was, “Dad died.”  

Living through that and watching my Father at the end of his life was traumatic. I have discussed this with a grief counselor who did EMDR as well. I have tried to forget this period of life and what I saw in the hospital room in the middle of the night. However in the COVID-19 era its hard to try and forget that situation when you read about the coronavirus and how it effects people. From the Los Angeles Times to the Washington Post there have been some graphic descriptions of the coronavirus and how people have had trouble breathing. I spoke with a friend who works in first response that told me what it was like to be on a couple of calls in dealing with people who were gasping for air. For me what all this does is bring me back to my Father’s hospital room on November 21, 2018. I feel at times I am re-living my Dad’s death. When I hear the news about how people with COVID are struggling to breath it reminds me of my own father when he struggled to breath. And this is happening even when I put on boundaries and limit my intake of news and avoid certain articles. The coronavirus has flooded our culture and its everywhere regardless whether you can fact that fact or not. I spoke about this with my sister and she told me that she is struggling with the same thing. Its just how life is right now and its not normal or healthy to live through a pandemic. And during this unique time in history its okay not to be normal.