How to Grieve like a Dominant

“Its was one of those events which at a crucial stage in one's development arrive to challenge and stretch one to the limit of one's ability and beyond, so that thereafter one has a new standard by which to judge oneself.” 
― Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day

How to grieve like a top —

  1. Act like nothing’s wrong.

  2. Take care of everyone else first.

  3. Don’t let anyone know, including yourself, that you have needs.

  4. Instead of asking for what you need, start micro-managing your submissive.

  5. Give yourself permission and then cry with intention.

  6. Accept a hug from your submissive. If they’re not sure what to do because they’ve never seen you cry before tell them to give you a hug. Role model vulnerability and courage from a space of authority.  

  7. Lastly, role model strength. Insist that those under your care maintain a regular daily schedule and begin establishing a “new normal” to integrate into the remainder of yesterday.

Traditional healthy dominants will lean hard into their leader and protector role during difficult times. This is of course a duty bound response and it comes from a place of honor. It has its limits though because dominants are what? People too. The limit is different for each dominant. Hopefully life doesn’t push us to the edge of grief too often, so we might not have many opportunities to learn how we grieve. What dominants and submissives can practice daily is self care and awareness. Self care creates and maintains a center of power and awareness provides tools to stay grounded. D/s (dominance and submission) is based on a hierarchy (power) that is consensual (exchange). Power exchange is the dynamic that facilitates D/s so both (or more) players need to come from a place of power so they have something to exchange in the first place.

As a dominant I am very aware that my mood sets the tone for my submissives. Like children and pets, they are sensitive to the slightest shift in energy. If they are a good follow they can navigate a certain amount of this on their own, and sometimes they need too. The dominant prioritizes the emotional needs of the submissive because the bottom line is the bottom has all the power. Baring some sort of emergency, if my submissive does not want to do something it is not happening. This includes times when the submissive may fluctuate in their mood. What makes submissives so fun to play with is they are sensitive and responsive, capable of receiving high levels of stimulation or information or both.

Any instrument that is sensitive will require a higher level of maintenance. As a dominant I do my best to calculate the exact intersection between the needs of my life and the capacity of my submissive. But as life does, sometimes it gets away from us and I will wind up with a submissive on my hands who essentially safewords on life and anything else I may have planned for us is over til after their aftercare is complete. This potential for the submissive to drop during difficult times where planning is challenging is precisely why I administer an even deeper level of TLC when life fluctuates. I neeeeed them to stay with me because 1 I need them 2 I need us to stay on top of the beat when life kicks up the pace. A standard protocol I practice for serious moments is “obey now, ask why later”. Spoiler alert: they don’t usually wind up asking. The answer is in the living.

Difficult times often mean even more decision making for the dominant. Part of being a Goddess is being led by an authority higher than myself. I’m in a constant state of deep listening when I’m making decisions to guide my leather family. These downloads often come rapidly and with only a moment before they must be executed. If my submissives want me to see them on the other side, I have to get them there first and that means we have to move. Manifesting is powerful work and magic comes quickly. As a dominant my submissives not only serve me, their presence comforts me. There’s no one i want to be nearer to than my submissive when dealing with an outside situation that requires all of me. It can be a great sacrifice on the part of the submissive to understand this and place themselves at a loss temporarily and it is also a great act of service that is invaluable to their dominant and they should know this. The world can feel scary sometimes, even for a dominant. And next to my submissive is the safest place on this earth for me as a Goddess, a woman and a sex worker. Those who serve me love and respect me and accept my authority without question and this allows me to proceed with the work.

Domina Vontana is a world traveled professional Dominatrix and sex educator with two decades of experience at the highest levels of both academia and kink. Every Tuesday you can hear her live on @MNDFCKPodcast broadcasting live in-studio from the Line Hotel in Adams Morgan, Washington DC. Her academic background includes health sciences, communications, women’s health, LGBT health and healthcare policy. Her professional experience includes direct patient services, adult retail and education. Domina Vontana was the first professional sex worker in the DC area to speak  with the media about her work as a BDSM professional. Her unique style sets audiences at ease and facilitates informative discussions around topics that are usually only discussed in private, if at all. These topics include sexuality, gender, women’s sexual health, BDSM, male submission, trauma, addiction, recovery, self advocacy, harm reduction and self care. Voted best laugh in high school, Vontana has been entertaining and educating audiences her entire life through the mediums of music, poetry, workshops and performance art. Her email is