Keeping a diary is a common and therapeutic habit, allowing an order to the cluttered thoughts and emotions that occur throughout our daily lives. Naturally, if you are a Disney animator, your diary can take on a visual format to become a 'doodle diary.'

This is what former Disney animation professional Gary Andrews started doing on his 54th birthday, as a happily married father-of-two, documenting the joy of family life with his beautiful wife and children. Sadly, tragedy was to strike, and Gary would become a widower and a single parent within three years.

While away on a work trip to Canada, Gary's wife Joy fell ill with what they thought was a simple flu. However, it soon became apparent that it was much more serious than that, and Gary rushed home to be near his beloved. On arrival back in the UK he received the devastating news: Joy had passed away from sepsis.

Completely shell-shocked from the sudden death of Joy, Gary struggled to find a way to respond to his overwhelming grief. He opened up his notebook and let his emotions pour out onto the pages. “I was crying so hard it was difficult to focus on the page. I was drawing through tears,” he told the Daily Mail. “Joy had been my soulmate for 19 years. She was beautiful, kind, generous and funny. We did everything together. When I lost her, I felt half of me had gone.”

Through the stages of grief, Gary continued with his doodle diary, recording the ups and downs, the good days and the bad. The process of putting his thoughts and emotions down on paper helped him to cope, by allowing him to vent his feelings. Joy is a recurring part of his doodles, and he also manages to capture the continuing happiness and fun that his children bring to his life, navigating the world of being a single parent.

Sepsis is a silent killer, and cartoonist Gary hopes to raise awareness for an illness that is often regarded as an afterthought for many doctors. Its symptoms, including fever, sickness, blotchy skin and dizziness, are often mistaken for other illnesses and not recognized until too late. If captured early on, it can be treated with simple antibiotics. Gary doesn't blame anyone for Joy's death. However, it was merely bad luck. “From the minute Joy was admitted to hospital, specialists from every department tried to find out what was wrong,' he says. “They couldn't have done more. It wasn't until the post-mortem that they narrowed it down to sepsis.”

“Blame and 'what ifs' won't bring Joy back. Would she still be alive if I hadn't been to Canada and a doctor had been called a day earlier? I can't think about things like that. What happened has happened, and you have to come to terms with it. I want to move forward, to honor Joy's memory and bring up our kids in a way she would have approved of.”

Scroll down below to see some of Gary's poignant doodles for yourself on how to deal with grief, and let us know what you think in the comments.

More info: Twitter

Shell-shocked from the sudden death of his wife, Gary struggled to find a way to respond to his overwhelming grief

He started drawing some doodles in his journal to document the daily life without his soulmate and found that expressing his emotions helped a bit

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Brittney Stanford 8 months ago

annnd my heart just broke

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Baron von Awesome 8 months ago

Anyone cutting onions?

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KT Trondsen 8 months ago

This one makes me tear up.

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Moo Jar 8 months ago

So sad, bless him

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Kjorn 8 months ago

that''s the hardest one... hear the kids missing mommy...

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PRATIK GHADAVALE 8 months ago

broke my heart .... :(

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Dian Ella Lillie 8 months ago

When I saw the title I thought "oh no, another Sad Panda post." I couldn't look away though, and of course I'm crying for the family, especially for the kids. If only I could magic their mother back... And all because of sepsis - if only they'd pinged it a little earlier, there'd almost certainly have been a different outcome. I know now what superpower I'd want - to be able to make the pain better for people who've had to suffer too much through fate's fickleness.

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Matthew A 8 months ago

Wow, she'd be proud!

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Karen Dyer 8 months ago

There is, it takes awhile, don't rush yourself or your children, take all the time you need. When you do start feeling happy or laugh, don't feel guilty for doing so, your wife wouldn't want you to feel guilty.

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Moo Jar 8 months ago

Its amazing that he still has stuff like that to remember her even better

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Karen Dyer 8 months ago

No, it isn't easy. A womens job is never done. You are in that position now. I have faith in you, you will be able to continue with your dual roles.

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PRATIK GHADAVALE 8 months ago

she is watching over you.......

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Rebekah 8 months ago

What a great kid.

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Deadpool 8 months ago

This is just so sad, and now I’m all depressed in guitar class 😞

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Pedro Hasashi 8 months ago

Im crying reading all this

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PRATIK GHADAVALE 8 months ago

The star that glows the brightest and that catches our eyes when we look up,.....it is the only star that relates to our loved ones .....so we know they are looking and shining upon us

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Pamula Furness 8 months ago

Now I'm crying. How beautifully he has drawn her, captured her essence.................,

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SillyPotato_Wolfhard 8 months ago

Whisky and stranger things... sounds like a good night to me... but im 14 so lets make the whiskey orange juice.

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KT Trondsen 8 months ago

I can't keep looking at these, I'm going to cry at work. They are beautiful

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Pamula Furness 8 months ago

She really is amazing, isn't she? (I'm guessing she's a lot like Mum?) x

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Aine 8 months ago

from one Pagan to another, Samhain is always hard, yet comforting at the same time... all the best, fellow traveler!

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Randy Inbred 8 months ago

Hey man you are doing a 3k run with your kids!!! Lesser men (like me) would be getting drunk or nursing a hangover. You are stronger than you think! Keep going!

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sharron lynn parsons 8 months ago

There will be many happy, sad times with the memories !

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Karen Dyer 8 months ago

Nothing wrong with missing your gal. You could be come one of the mums now.

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Matthew A 8 months ago

This is so sad

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K. LNU 8 months ago

Friends are the family we get to choose.

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The Gumnut Flock 8 months ago

Omg I have been literally sobbing while reading this. You guys are so strong, I know that you will make it through this ❤️❤️

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Karen Dyer 8 months ago

Only get off when you feel ready.

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PRATIK GHADAVALE 8 months ago

presence are comforting .....even when ppl are not around us.....we feel them , and miss them ....but we smile as we know they are here somewhere

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Ruth Olson 8 months ago

tears are flowing thru this whole story. thank you for sharing

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Jon Chevalier 8 months ago

you are doing great.. she is always there...trust it. trust her..

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Audra Granath 8 months ago

My Mother passed away when I was 10 as well. I'm now 52 & still not over it.....

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Felicia Dale 8 months ago

A very dear friend of mine died just a month ago. All the songs are sad right now.

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Randy Inbred 8 months ago

Yes!!!

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PRATIK GHADAVALE 8 months ago

stay strong brother......she is always there and always will be .......ur love and bond is pure......

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Kikka io 8 months ago

when I happened to be in mourning, one of the fundamental foods to cure depression and pain was Nutella. it is a pain reliever, an antidepressant, a painkiller for the brain. and it's very good

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Randy Inbred 8 months ago

Yup! You gotta stick around for the kids!

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Beth Taccia 8 months ago

You know she did.

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Randy Inbred 8 months ago

I can totally relate. It's the dreams that kill you. Some natural sleep aids can help but don't drink till you pass out. I did that and it took years to break the habit.

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PRATIK GHADAVALE 8 months ago

ohh stop it man...u are making me cry with all this post.....its such a beautiful feeling ur are passing to me....i never wanna lose the person that i love the most.....RIP for your wife.....she seems a kind hearted person and ur love shows in all the post......may god bless u and ur family

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Sande Knight 8 months ago

The candor is refreshing giving me a bittersweet smile!

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Randy Inbred 8 months ago

If it helps, buy something for your little girl and explain why.

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Anny Seavey 8 months ago

This was great Grief is so long it does get better but tears and that chocking feeling are never far away my grief is my son. This is a club no-one should ever join!

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