Yvette M. on Coping with Grief after the Unimaginable
May 12, 2022
“Miguel, myself and our oldest son, Justin, all got COVID in November of 2020,” said Yvette. “My son and I got better, but Miguel was immunocompromised, so he was in and out of the hospital – Bayshore Medical Center.”
Their sons always expected dad would return home. Yvette believed differently. “When I dropped Miguel off at the hospital on December 30, 2020, quite frankly I didn’t think he would make it through the night,” recalled Yvette, who works as a Privacy Compliance coordinator for Hackensack Meridian Health. “My husband remained at Bayshore until he passed away on January 19th.”
With visitation restrictions in place, COVID was very isolating for the Mendez family. The only way they could visit was virtually. Bayshore Medical Center’s health care team took exceptional care of Miguel. “The people at Bayshore were like extended family for all of us. My husband always said how grateful he was for the care he received,” said Yvette. “We didn’t get the opportunity to properly thank everyone who took care of him. It’s important for them to know, as colleagues, we are grateful. I couldn’t be there to feed my husband, to help him the way I would have liked to . . . They all took such great care of him until his last breath. I could never repay the kindness.”
The Widespread Impact of COVID
COVID has become the third leading cause of death in the United States. According to Johns Hopkins University there have been more than 988,000 deaths due to COVID in little over two years - resulting in grief for millions of people.
Yvette and Miguel were married for 17 years and together for 20. “My husband was amazing. We had an awesome marriage. We were truly blessed,” said Yvette. “He was a very hands-on dad and husband. It’s been particularly challenging for all of us. It’s been a long process.”
Without Miguel, Yvette and her sons are learning to cope emotionally as well as how to navigate daily life. Yvette became a single mom. “Before, I did the cooking, cleaning and the laundry. Miguel’s job was the house – mowing the lawn, taking care of the pool, using the snow blower,” Yvette shared. “What happens when the bathroom leaks?”
All three of them tried to put up a brave front for one another, but that front was cracking. “I have suffered from depression in the past and I felt the symptoms coming on. I felt myself isolating from people. I felt alone. I felt sad. Even though I was working, I found myself not being motivated,” said Yvette. “I was struggling with my day to day. Just going through the motions. My sons worried about me more than they did before. We were all struggling.”
Yvette and Miguel were both assistant pastors for the Middletown Assembly of God. Yvette’s strong belief in God helped her to get through difficult days and led her to seek grief counseling. “My husband has been gone for a year, but it took me a good seven months before I decided to do something. Through our Hackensack Meridian health insurance, I looked for a therapist in the area. I hit the jackpot... I found a Christian counselor,” said Yvette. She was able to get the treatment she needed and continues to see her therapist weekly.
Grief is an ongoing process that requires support. It’s important to not be afraid to seek help if you need it.
Today, Yvette is stepping out of her comfort zone and sharing her family’s story to help others. “I believe there are a lot of people who could benefit from seeking mental health care. I want to make sure everyone is aware of the resources that are out there for us, especially those of us who are experiencing grief and loss,” said Yvette. “There’s a massive amount of stigma when it comes to behavioral health. We deal with so much trauma. I’m happy I am sharing my story. Silent suffering isn’t necessary.”
Prioritize your mental health. Talk to someone, listen and seek care when you need it.
Next Steps and Resources
- Learn more about the Behavioral Health services available at Hackensack Meridian Health.
- Book an appointment with a psychiatrist.
The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.
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