The grieving widow spoke to Maurice Benard about how she used social media to find healing and help others.
Sometimes in life, it takes a lot of emotion and reflection to make sense of the senseless. This week’s State Of Mind served up some deep subject matter as General Hospital’s Maurice Benard sat down with two-time mom and social influencer, Dani Bates, to discuss the loss of her beloved husband, Denny, to suicide and how a video chronicling her daughter’s grief struck a chord with many social media followers.
Maurice Benard & Dani Bates: The Unfathomable
Benard (Sonny Corinthos) started the show by reminding the audience how he started the video podcast, State Of Mind, by talking from his car during his own dark period and struggling with mental health. That is when his daughter Cailey spotted a video of a 3-year-old child grieving the loss of her father on Instagram and planted the idea of talking to her mother about their struggle to come to terms with his loss.
*Trigger warning: The two discuss depression, mental illness, sexual abuse, suicide, and gun use.
The host warmly welcomed the brave mom and cautioned his audience about the harsh subject matter. “This morning, you are going to be watching Dani Bates on State Of Mind, and she is absolutely breathtaking. I do want to warn you that we do speak about suicide, so do take that into consideration, but Dani is an incredible woman.”
The social media influencer didn’t start out to do that. It was only when she felt like she was at the end of her rope and dealing with a young child trying to cope with the unfathomable that she put it out there for others to see. Others might be struggling, just as her family was, with a loss they didn’t see coming.
Bates described her husband’s frame of mind just before the incident. “He had been the healthiest mentally than he had ever been, up until that week.” She continued, “He was doing so well in every aspect of his life. He was happy. He was whole. He was eating normally. Exercising normally. He had his dream job. He was an SFO of a group of car dealerships. He had his babies, and we were happy.”
Despite their ideal family life, there was darkness on the horizon. “We had found out a week before he died that a close family member of ours had been sexually abused for 10 years of her life. It triggered something in him.” A week later, he was found in his car behind the local police station. Not only was Bates devastated, but her two young children, a baby and an almost 3-year-old, would be left traumatized from the loss.
On the advice of her therapist, the widow began working with her daughter, Winnie, to help her learn to self-soothe to address future PTSD and start to heal. She made the controversial choice to share with family and friends on social media, and it went viral, helping many other grieving families in the process.
Addressing The Past And The Road to Recovery
Dani Bates may be a stranger to the audience, but after hearing her story, many may feel like her story is a familiar one. Benard put her at ease, and she began to share her past. She spoke of her own history of dealing with anxiety, depression, and OCD. The young mother discussed growing up adopted into a Mormon family, struggling with the strict guidelines set by the church, going on a mission while struggling with her own mental health, and, eventually, leaving on her own terms.
Bates detailed how she met her husband, the love of her life, their courtship, how he won her family over, and how his own troubled past came to light after his death. Her story inspired Maurice Benard, and his quest to bring mental health to the forefront also encouraged her to make this her life mission moving forward by helping other families reeling from a loved one’s loss. Click here for the full episode.
If you are struggling with loss or have suicide ideation, or know someone who does, please don’t hesitate to contact The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) or dial 988 in the United States. Fans can catch up on Bates’s journey on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube. To follow State Of Mind and subscribe, go to YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. Fans can now purchase inspirational merchandise for Benard’s State Of Mind. Check it out.