This article is motivated by my personal wish to pay tribute to my beloved grandfather, who passed away during the COVID-19 pandemic while I was stranded in Australia. Relying on an evocative autoethnography of a grandson, a father, a PhD candidate and graduate, and a researcher, and in reference to the concepts of place-making theories such as time-space expansion, I tried to embrace my experience of grief and loss as well as to make sense of my feelings of distance, impermanence, and death during this chaotic period. The story I will tell below chronicles my emotional and spiritual journey from the moment I first learned of my grandfather’s illness (early 2020) until the time after his passing (October 2021). I have found out that during this process of attempting to converse with, heal, and take care of myself, I have transcended the physical-social aspects of place and touched on spiritual space.


death, impermanence, time-space expansion, COVID-19, place-making, evocative autoethnography

Author Bio(s)

Kien Nguyen-Trung is a Research Fellow at BehaviourWorks Australia, Monash University. His research interests include qualitative research, care of self, disaster risks, climate change adaptation, community development, social capital, and social media. His recent publications focus on the role of social capital in disaster recovery, the social construction of vulnerability, or the environmental justice movement in Vietnam or Australia. Please direct correspondence to Dr. Kien Nguyen-Trung, Research Fellow, BehaviourWorks Australia, Monash Sustainable Development Institute, Monash University, 8 Scenic Boulevard, Clayton campus, Clayton VIC 3800, Australia. Email: Kien.nguyen@monash.edu


The author would like to pay his tribute to his late grandfather, Bùi Ngọc Hồng. He wants to thank his wife and two daughters for their presence, support, and love during this difficult time. Lastly, he would like to thank the editors and reviewers who have generously provided constructive feedback on this manuscript.

Publication Date


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