Grief is something that no one gets out of life without feeling; it’s a natural response to a devastating loss, whether it be a death in the family, or the ending of a valued relationship. Things can be more complicated for an individual handling a loss while in recovery as there are more risks to contend with.
When you find yourself at the beginning stages of grief, it can feel awful; it’ll feel like something you can’t survive, and it may be tempting to seek relief and numbness through drugs and alcohol. The emotional, mental, and physical pain that comes along with grief is one of the worst things that we will ever feel during our lifetime. The Kubler- Ross model on the Stages of Grief describe grief as happening in five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Ideally, you would move from one stage to the next and eventually end in acceptance, where you would learn to accept the loss as life goes on.
Without proper help and support, you risk getting stuck in the stages. In order to ensure that you go through the process of grief in a healthy way, it’s important that you stay healthy, reach out for support, learn mindfulness techniques, put a game plan into place for triggers, and most of all, stay on top of your addiction recovery.
Pay Attention to Your Health and Look into Personal Counseling
If you’re in recovery, put it in your head from the beginning that you cannot afford to relapse over the loss of a loved one—you still have to allow yourself to experience the feelings that come with the process. Shortly after the loss occurs, you must pay extra-careful attention to your health and making sure that you choose the best day-to-day choices that you can under the circumstances.
Make sure that you’re drinking enough water, eating healthy meals, and getting enough sleep; your body will need the extra care as the emotional roller-coaster of grief can be exhausting as our emotions can affect our bodies physically. In the beginning, you should also be reaching out within your community to find out where you can participate in one-on-one or group counseling in your area.
Meeting one on one with a counselor can be very beneficial, but also meeting with a group of people who can empathize with what you are going through can be a great tool to help you get through the process of grieving.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure that you have a plan in place to get the support you need to be able to get through this in the healthiest way possible, without a relapse.
Mindfulness techniques can be great tools when it comes to dealing with grief. If you are a spiritual person, depending upon what you believe in, you can pray about the loss. Praying is effective because it builds your faith and shows that you’re not alone in this situation, and that God (or otherwise) is right beside you, giving you spiritual strength. If you belong to a church or spiritual group, you should reach out for support from them as well; support from religious or spiritual people during this time can make an enormous difference.
Meditation can also be a powerful tool that helps you quiet your mind and focus your mental energies on being calm and peaceful. It’s effective because it will help give you some control over the flood of emotions that you are experiencing.
For some, practices like yoga can also be an effective mindfulness technique—if you think it would be good for you, try to start attending a beginner’s class to help you learn important techniques that let you regroup and focus your energy on something healthy. All of these techniques are valuable in some way, so try and find the ones that work for you and add them in as a part of your recovery.
Plan ahead for Grief Triggers
Understand that as you move through the stages of grief and begin to process everything that you’re feeling, there will surely be some bumps in the road that may bring you back a few steps on your journey. The way to overcome these obstacles is ultimately planning ahead for them before they even happen.
For example, if you’re dealing with a loss of a loved one, it’s probably not a good idea to be alone when you start going through their things or attending meetings regarding their wills and funeral directives. You should pick someone that is supportive to attend these things with you and be by your side.
If you’re attending counseling, talk about the events before they happen and try to anticipate how you will feel. As long as you continue to understand that this is a natural part of life, and that your emotions and feelings are valid about the loss, you can be more compassionate with yourself and those around you. Finding someone you trust to attend these difficult situations with you can also decrease the chances of a relapse—the person with you can understand the situation and look out for you. Sometimes, the best people to do this are those that are in your recovery group.
IOP and Meetings
Lastly, you cannot afford to forget that you’re still in recovery. Grief can be so difficult to deal with that it might be tempting to just shut your doors, draw your blinds, stay inside, and isolate away from your community.
Don’t fall into the trap of feeling that no one will be able to adequately understand the depths of your pain and give into the tendency to isolate; continue to do as you would before the loss, in relation to your recovery. Go to your meetings, talk to your family and friends, continue doing the personal work that you’ve been doing to get through recovery and addiction. If you’re involved in 12-step programs, then you should definitely share with others what is going on with you so that they have the opportunity to support you during this trying time.
Remember: you have worked hard for your recovery and you don’t want to unravel all of the effort you’ve put in. No matter how you choose to handle grief, know that it’s a process that is normal, natural, and eventually the pain will be more bearable and life will feel livable again.