Learning to Live with Grief

Ms. Vinson came to Ben Massell Dental Clinic in pain, depressed, and struggling with her health. She had been unknowingly living with depression for years, and was supplementing with candy and sweets. She couldn’t find the motivation to brush her teeth and led a sedentary lifestyle due to several health complications. All of this took a toll on her oral health. Before coming to the clinic, she lost her upper back teeth and ended up with multiple cavities.

Ms. Vinson first heard about the Ben Massell Dental Clinic through word of mouth while in the waiting room of a doctor’s office. The moment she walked in the door, she felt comforted and cared for. “It’s impossible to meet a stranger there,” she said. “I’m always meeting different people and talking in the waiting area.” She felt that the staff truly wanted her to feel better, and were always able to give her an appointment when she needed it. “I love how considerate the people are there.” During her time as a patient at the clinic, she’s received multiple cleanings, cavity fillings, and a partial denture.

But for Ms.Vinson, the impact of Ben Massell reaches far beyond her oral care. Through talking with the Ben Massell staff during her appointments, they learned she was struggling with depression and going through an immense period of grief. She was dealing with many losses in her life, including the loss of her mother, a dear friend, and her fiance, all within the month of February. When we spoke this past February, the anniversaries of their deaths were weighing on her terribly.

The staff connected Ms. Vinson to one of our clinicians, who helped her cope with the feelings of loss, abandonment, and depression. She gave Ms. Vinson the tools to deal with her emotions and better learn how to handle them without resorting to candy or damaging behaviors. “Ben Massell Dental Clinic has saved my life… If I hadn’t gotten the mental health [care] that I still need… they have such good skills to help a person find their way,” she says.

Our clinician helped her receive anxiety medication from her primary care physician, alleviating the nerves that cause Ms. Vinson to grind her teeth. Later, when she was struggling financially, she was connected to our Emergency Financial Assistance program and was able to receive emergency funds to fix her car. She also received free vision care and glasses through our partnership with Georgia Lions Lighthouse, after being referred by staff members. “I was sitting at Ben Massell and I couldn’t see the paperwork,” she remembers. “From my eyes, to my car, to my teeth, and my sound mind I’m trying to regain, I’ve been so blessed by Ben Massell Dental Clinic.”

Ms. Vinson credits Ben Massell with giving her the tools and the power to move on with life, still dealing with her grief but longer being held back by it. She’s learned how to better handle her emotions, and learned about proper oral care that can affect her entire body. “I made the choice to want to be better. I’ve been knocked down so much, I want to at least keep my smile,” she shares of taking better care of her teeth. “I’m just dealing with a lot of pain, I’m just fighting the grain of life’s strife and I want to find a victory... But I'm very grateful. Please know I'm so grateful as a longtime patient of Ben Massell."