March 7, 2022

Grief and Your Mental Health

Doug Lawrence

February 6th, 2021 was the toughest day that I have ever experienced and a day that was filled with sadness, sorrow and a whole bunch of unknown. That was the day that I lost Debra, my partner for life to cancer. She had so much more love to share with others for her to be gone. We had so much more living to do, things to see, places to go. She was only 62 and it wasn’t her time yet to depart, or so I thought. So early – it wasn’t fair. I asked myself over and over again what could I have done to change the outcome. I was to be her protector and I obviously had failed. Why couldn’t it have been me. What was the criteria that had Debra pass before me? Did I do something wrong that factored in to why she was to pass before me.

All these questions kept percolating in my mind as I tried to rationalize what had taken place and begin the grieving process. I struggled with believing that there was a process that I would have to go through. All the things that would need to be taken care of – that we were going to do together now rested on my shoulders. Why didn’t I get the extra time to spend with her to tell her how much I loved her and how much she means to me. Life without her would seem meaningless – there would be no purpose in what I would do. I would go through the day on auto-pilot.

Over a year has past and I spend a lot of my days filled with memories of things we did together and days where we shared what each other had done. We laughed, offered advice, listened and sometimes cried together at different lived experiences we had been a part of that day. Some were success stories, some were things we needed to work on, and some were learnings that each had experienced that would make our relationship stronger. Now all of that are memories. This is part of that grieving process.

Were those memories going to be strong enough to help me get to wherever it is that I am suppose to be going without Debra by my side? Little things seem to kick my emotions into overdrive and I wonder if I am loosing my mind some days. My mental sharpness is not what it was and that worries me.

I drive past the hospital where she had passed and it triggers memories of my back and forth to the hospital to visit her and eventually for her to pass. Tears run down my cheeks as I drive past where I had parked my car to go and spend time with her. The window where I had remote started my car from so I could go home and grab a couple of hours sleep before going back to the hospital.

I had moments where I was depressed especially when I tried to imagine what life would be like without Debra. I kept asking myself what could I have done different or better. Some things there are no real answers for the many questions that I had. People tell me that I just need to keep moving. Moving where and why? More questions.

I look forward to Monday as I can focus my attention on work related activities. I hate week-ends as I find myself alone. Week-ends were a special time as Debra and I would do all kinds of things but we did them together. That togetherness was priceless – even more so now.

I have noticed that my mental health isn’t where I think it should be. I wanted to share with you what I have been going through as mental health is a significant issue today and we don’t seem to be allocating the time to it that we should.

I am just one person and I was able to get closure but not everyone is that fortunate. Think of the 5.9M people that died due to COVID and all their families that may not have been able to get closure. Debra passed in February and we could not celebrate her life until August. Some people were not even able to do that. Not getting closure plays on your mental health and mental well-being. Think of the families of the approximately 59M people that die annually and the impact that it has on their friends and families. It is no wonder that our mental health is in the state that it is.

Just having someone to talk to is so important. Someone that is non-judgmental. Someone that can build a trusted relationship with you. That is where having a mentor that will walk beside you as you begin your healing journey. Grief is part of your mental health and mental well-being and mentoring can be a part of your support structure. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. It is so important that you tap into a support structure which would include a mentor and work together on your healing journey.

Mentoring and your mental health – a journey of healing and support.



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