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

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

  1. 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. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

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