Guest Post from BereavedSingleDad: Loss and Mental Health

Today, we are thankful to be able to share another of BereavedSingleDad’s posts. Gary has shared his mental health struggles after his partner’s funeral had been and gone, he suddenly found himself alone with his thoughts – something that so many people will be able to relate to.

Remember, you are never alone.

It is an absolute honour to be able to share this on our blog, thank you Gary.

Katie and Evee

Picture a scene. 

Son is back at school and I am pacing the house. It’s completely quiet and so very empty. I’m feeling so,claustrophobic but am too afraid to leave the house. It has been days since I slept properly. I’m worrying about our son. I’m worrying about my job. I’m worrying about everything. I can’t see any future beyond our son. I try to visualise a future but I just see nothingness. The cards, visits and phone calls have dried up. I’m feeling completely alone. 

That was me a few weeks after my partners funeral. A really dark time. The weeks up to the funeral were just a blur. So much to organise, so many people making contact. A constant stream of hands on the shoulder, hugs and ‘are you ok’s’. No time to think. But then the funeral comes  and goes and it starts to change. People stop calling. People stop asking if you are alright. Suddenly you are truly alone. Alone and now with too much time to think.

And thinking I did do. Never constructive thoughts. Dark thoughts. I was living two completely separate life’s. The forced happy face with son and others. The broken and in pain face when I was alone. It felt like good minutes and bad months.

I was so lucky in that I had one key job to do.  Nothing else mattered. Try to look after our young son. At least I had something to focus on. I dread to think what would have happened without that. But it didn’t stop the depression. The sadness. The despair. The emptiness. I did visit some dark mind places. Thankfully for me our son pulled me out of those. Too many don’t get that helping hand. 

Finally I did need to sort myself out, if only for our son. The starting point was being open about things. On the rare occasions when someone asked if I was ok I would put on a mask and just say – I’m fine. That had to change. So I picked up the courage to see the doctor. It was a start. Just admitting to someone that I was not ok helped. It helped more than the doctor. After the doctor had asked the standard 8 questions to determine if I was suicidal I was sent away with a few sleeping tablets. But it was a start. 

Things then seemed to start to happen. I stumbled across blogging. Suddenly a way to talk openly. I rediscovered running and exercise. This became my daily anchor. The thing I did for myself which I always made time for. Something to hang on to. A puppy was bought. Suddenly the house was full of noise and life. I found a new job which worked around my new single parenting gig. And yes if someone did ask how I was doing, I was honest.

Yes I’m still fighting depression today. Somedays I do still lose the mental health battle but when tomorrow comes, we start again. It seems like it’s good weeks and bad days now. That’s real progress. I started to live again. That’s real progress. It’s ok to be sad and it’s ok to have fun. That’s real progress. 

Mental Health struggles after a significant loss almost go hand in hand. For many it becomes a real struggle. A struggle that is too often faced in silence. But the key thing to remember is you are not alone. There are people going through a similar pain. There are good people out there who will listen. I can do this. We can do this. There is always hope. This can still be a wonderful life. 

Just two final thoughts.

  1. Finding a way to talk when you’re in a dark place really does help. Find a way to reach out. There are people out there who want to listen. I did that by blogging. Just find a way. The first steps are the hardest but it’s the best steps you will ever take.
  2. I remember that feeling of being so alone a few weeks after the funeral. Without those caring hands on the shoulder. So now I make a mental note to reach out those I know who are going through loss. Not just at the start but also a month or so after as well. Even a little card can make such a difference. 

Take care

Gary

42 thoughts on “Guest Post from BereavedSingleDad: Loss and Mental Health

  1. King Ben's Grandma – My name is Angie. I'm the mother of two adult daughters. I am also co-parenting my autistic grandson with his mama. We all live together in one house that is ruled by King Ben. Grandma & Mama aka Older daughter (I write semi-anonymously to protect Ben) are his loyal subjects. I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse as well as domestic abuse from my alcoholic (ex)husband of 20+ years. I occasionally have problems with PTSD from the abuse and clinical depression because life & heredity. On top of that, or slithering through it, I am also disabled with Fibromyalgia. Fibro brings it's friends Fibro Fog, Insomnia, IBS & placque psoriasis to play along. Bottom line, I'm kind of a mess, a generally happy mess, but a mess all the same. My blog is part journal, part rant space with a little attempt at education mixed in. I'm a pragmatic eternal-optimist with a touch of cynicism.
    King Ben's Grandma says:

    Great advice- reaching out. Being “strong and stoic” is SO bad for our mental health.

    It doesn’t make one “weak” to ask for help, it makes them strong enough to admit vulnerability and humanity.

  2. Mr. Ohh's Sideways View – I am one in a long line of humans who see the world a bit different from everyone else. I am often caught dancing to the music in my head. Please join me in my support of World Laughter
    Mr. Ohh's Sideways View says:

    Great thoughts
    Stay well and laugh when you can

  3. clairei47 – My name is Claire. I am a mum, a wife and I work for the NHS. For as long as I can remember I have drank alcohol and my relationship with it has become increasingly complex over recent years. I’m 47 and I want to be physically and mentally healthy. I want to be present in my life and enjoy the journey, not drown it out with wine and hangovers. I have had anxiety and depression and I am still working hard to keep them at bay. I am hoping that not having alcohol will help me beat them. I have decided to detail how things progress via this blog. I know nothing about blogging but I think support from others is essential. Maybe one day I can help someone with my story. I started my sober journey on 17th November 2019; long may it continue.
    clairei47 says:

    Lovely post from Gary. Feeling alone can be a devastating emotion. I completely echo the advice to reach out and talk to someone. Make a connection and share how you feel. A very powerful share. Thanks ladies (and Gary) x

      1. clairei47 – My name is Claire. I am a mum, a wife and I work for the NHS. For as long as I can remember I have drank alcohol and my relationship with it has become increasingly complex over recent years. I’m 47 and I want to be physically and mentally healthy. I want to be present in my life and enjoy the journey, not drown it out with wine and hangovers. I have had anxiety and depression and I am still working hard to keep them at bay. I am hoping that not having alcohol will help me beat them. I have decided to detail how things progress via this blog. I know nothing about blogging but I think support from others is essential. Maybe one day I can help someone with my story. I started my sober journey on 17th November 2019; long may it continue.
        clairei47 says:

  4. carol hopkins – Canada – I am Canadian. I love this beautiful country and hope to discover more of it.. I enjoy writing, photography, and walks on nature trails and beaches. I am passionate about human rights and my favourite stories to read are uplifting and inspirational stories. I believe in the innate nobility of the human spirit and I endeavor to be positive. I have learned many lessons over the years, but most importantly I have witnessed the inherent goodness of peoples near and far. I hope my writing reflects that. All photographs used in my blog are mine, unless otherwise stated. Contact: camhopkins97@gmail.com
    carol hopkins says:

    Gary has wisdom that is so compassionate and caring that you can almost feel a hand on your shoulder, he expresses everything so well.

    I remember several years ago I went to visit a woman whose husband had recently died. She was alone a lot and having a lot of trouble sleeping. I offered to spend the night at her house. I was surprised at how she lit up, at how excited she was at the idea. At first she kept saying no, but I persevered, reassuring her it was something I wanted to do. Our kids were young at the time but mu hubby was supportive and took the kiddies home. In the morning she told me how much she’d needed that rest. I wish I could have done so more often. It really was such a small thing to do but seemed to give her a new lease on life, at least for that day, for that moment in time.

      1. carol hopkins – Canada – I am Canadian. I love this beautiful country and hope to discover more of it.. I enjoy writing, photography, and walks on nature trails and beaches. I am passionate about human rights and my favourite stories to read are uplifting and inspirational stories. I believe in the innate nobility of the human spirit and I endeavor to be positive. I have learned many lessons over the years, but most importantly I have witnessed the inherent goodness of peoples near and far. I hope my writing reflects that. All photographs used in my blog are mine, unless otherwise stated. Contact: camhopkins97@gmail.com
        carol hopkins says:

        Life’s precious moments are made up of small gestures that do have a big impact, often bigger than any large gesture.

  5. Sheila Murrey – Florida – I'm the author of the book, "Take It Upon Yourself to Live a Wholly Vibrant Life”, as well as two blogs. I write about holistic health and wellness, and spiritual topics. My intention is to share what I have learned and integrated into my daily life to help uplift and lighten others. Everyone can live a balanced, soul-aligned, and wholly vibrant life! I am a holistic health and well-being event emcee, and Soul-aligned wedding officiant (notary public), in the beautiful sunny state of Florida. I am a vibrant spiritual being living a Soul-connected earthly experience. My mantras: Align with Spirit in ALL ways. Go with your "God bumps" flow to FEEL your Soul-alignment ALL the time. Study at your Passion. Gather knowledge. Pray. Meditate. Then, Take It Upon Yourself to walk your talk, practice what you preach, and integrate all you learn into your day-to-day, so you joyfully express Omni-everything! We Are All Connected. Life's an ADVENTURE! Now, go have FUN! Disclaimer: My full-time profession is in relational database systems and software. I am creative and technical, currently working full-time as a senior applications systems analyst. I am NOT a doctor or health practitioner, though I work with natural and holistic health professionals as a writer and emcee at health festivals and events. I encourage folks to seek multiple opinions for any health dis-eases. I support you in your quest to find holistic, licensed, professional health and wellness providers. I am mostly a plant-based eater, more tree hugger than consumer, advocate of simple living, full-time RVer, and grandmother of three fantastic granddaughters (who live far from me, but with whom I video conference weekly and visit at least once a year for a month or more). OM
    Sheila Murrey says:

    Mental health can be such an enigma. Precarious. Precious.

  6. paulguisbournehiltonalifeworthgiving – I am a 56 years old male living for the last 5 years in Pembrokeshire West Wales in the UK. I have entitled this blog along with my Facebook page as A Life worth giving because when I was growing up I was taught that the only way to get on in life was to be selfish, not even sharing sweets, books, pens or anything. I moved into adulthood with very much the same view of life and entered in my teens a life of alcohol dependency, another very selfish trait, my drinking consumed every waking moment and I saw alcohol as both my best friend and worst enemy, the only real positive was that it never let me down. Life changed for me in 1997 in the month of April when I stopped drinking and started to awaken my feelings, I found that I actually enjoyed life, enjoyed feeling although it was hard and left me feeling vulnerable yet today I am at my happiest, in a very loving relationship and life is good. A life worth giving is about my journey through life but also about being selfless and serving others willingly and with an attitude of gratitude.
    paulguisbournehiltonalifeworthgiving says:

    Thank you TheGriefReality for allowing Gary to share some of his thoughts and feelings many of which I am sure that we have all experienced and some have dealt with better than others.
    I agree totally with the thought that the phone calls and visits often dry up and I sometimes wonder if it is because people don’t know what to say or how to act.
    I think though as well that there are many people who ask how you are because they think that is what is expected of them, why though ask the question if they don’t want the answer.
    Somebody said to me yesterday that it’s okay not to be okay and that tomorrow is another day.
    Best wishes in your continued endeavours of raising awareness of the normality of grief.

    1. Your right about some people asking but not listening. I think you quickly realise the people who do want to listen. They are out there.

  7. Most painful and after a motivational statements of Gary.great.all depressed humans follow to Gary.Weldon.

  8. Tina – The best is yet to come. “Hope is one of the Theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.” – C.S. Lewis/Mere Christianity <3 "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." --Romans 12:12
    Tina says:

    This makes me so teary, but I’m glad that it’s being shared. <3

  9. DorothyMarie – Small Town in Michigan – I'm 48 years old, divorced with two adult daughters. I own one Pitbull Terrier named Oaklee Anne. It’s just her and me right now and it’s still an adjustment!
    DorothyMarie says:

    Thank you so much for sharing. Is there a link to Gary’s blog? I’d love to check it out.

  10. TishGirl❤️ – I'm simply a teenager with the wish to weave words into tapestries of writing. I have a love for all things writing, and blogging allows me to nurture my passion and share my creations with others. Join me on my adventure into worlds unknown...
    TishGirl❤️ says:

    This is so moving and inspirational. Wonderfully penned.

  11. Brendan Birth – Brendan is a young professional who is pursuing a career in advocacy. While much of his advocacy is in ageism, he is also passionate about other forms of discrimination and injustice. In his spare time, he likes to serve his home church, track major snowstorms and hurricanes, closely follow multiple sports, and make lots of puns.
    Brendan Birth says:

    I agree. For me, having a place to talk during times of grief definitely helps.

  12. This is such a beautiful site and eye opening post on the things that matter. Especially at a time of great uncertainty like this

    We all need an anchor, in our daily routines and then in ourselves

    Sharing below my own journey through grief and the lessons it taught me titled ‘there are always songs to sing’

    https://anandaonly.wordpress.com/2017/08/28/there-are-always-songs-to-sing/

  13. Belles Days – England – I’m from the UK and I live in England. I have MS and I live in a wheelchair which gives a unique view of life at waist height. I love writing, reading, listening to music and talking about food and travel. I advocate for accessible travel for disabled people. I survive on coffee and laughter!
    Belles Days says:

    I came across this by chance. Tomorrow is the funeral of our 7 year old grandson, who lost a 19 month battle with cancer 3 weeks ago. Today is horrible because we know that tomorrow we are going watch our daughter bury her little boy, she is destroyed by grief. These words I will pass on to her at an appropriate time when she is ready. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    1. I am so sorry for the grief and loss that you and your family are going through. I will be thinking of you today and sending you strength.

      This blog will be here for you to read other people’s experiences with grief when you feel ready. Please remember that you are not alone x

      1. Belles Days – England – I’m from the UK and I live in England. I have MS and I live in a wheelchair which gives a unique view of life at waist height. I love writing, reading, listening to music and talking about food and travel. I advocate for accessible travel for disabled people. I survive on coffee and laughter!
        Belles Days says:

        Thank you for your lovely words

  14. I agree with this post at every level. My grief was nothing compared to Gary’s but blogging helped me too. & I’ve been in touch with my friends who have lost someone long after their ‘immediate’ ordeal is over. It’s always the long term that hits more…

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