Losing a loved one is one of the hardest things anyone will ever go through, especially while you are in recovery. I remember when my Dad got sick; my best friend. I was devastated. I knew we didn’t have much time left with him, and the pain was unbearable. I spent as much time as I could with him in the hospital. Laid with him in his hospital bed. I bathed and shaved him. Talked to him and let him listen to my headphones; that’s something we both enjoyed, but I was still struggling with addiction at the time. I had been through inpatient treatment, but I wasn’t ready to get sober at the time of his passing, I just wasn’t ready. I fought it hard; fought hard to stay sober. Especially since one of his dying wishes was for me to get clean and recover. Looking back on it now, there was a lot I could have done differently. Now that I am in recovery, I will be better equipped to handle the loss of a loved one next time it happens. I say next time because death is inevitable. It’s something we all have to go through
Dealing with the Death of a Loved One
Death is something we all have to go through. We all go through grief. Whether it’s losing a loved one, a pet, a job, a home, a child, or a spouse. I have even had to grieve the loss of a sibling that is still alive. One of my brothers doesn’t have anything to do with me and hasn’t in a long time. There is nothing weak, unhealthy, or irrational about feeling grief. When we try to avoid it by pushing the feelings aside or ignoring it, that’s when it becomes unhealthy. Some believe the solution is to stop thinking at all or worse to try and numb those feelings by drinking or using. Drugs and alcohol may briefly numb your pain, but when you sober up, it’s still there, and most of the time it’s worse than it was.
Tips to Avoid Relapse in Recovery While Grieving
Everyone is particularly vulnerable to using alcohol or substances during a loss or emotional crisis. While you’re in recovery from addiction, those risks are increased and can make it even more difficult to avoid relapse while grieving. We’ve put together a few ideas on how to stay sober after the death of a loved one. Don’t Grieve Alone – I think one of the most important things is making sure you surround yourself with supportive people. Do not isolate. When we isolate or get lonely, especially during an emotional crisis such as a loss, it’s very hard to stay sober. Our minds are our own worst enemy. Stay with family; grieve together. Sit and talk about all the good times you had with your loved one; embrace good memories, but do not grieve alone. Stick to Your Program – If you are actively in recovery, make sure you stick to your program. Go to meetings and/or reach out to a sponsor. If you have a therapist or a counselor, it would be a good idea to schedule an emergency appointment with them. You have to talk about what is on your mind. It’s not good to bottle up those emotions. Other addicts and alcoholics have likely been through the loss of a loved one. Share your feelings and emotions with them and be honest about any urges you may have. When we tell on ourselves and our disease it makes us stronger. Find a Creative Outlet – Write your feelings down in a journal. This is something my therapist has encouraged me to start doing. It does help to get everything out by writing. Another way I have found to be helpful is to draw or color. Creatively expressing your feelings reduces stress and anxiety. Help Others – When I first officially started my recovery I had to find something that I enjoyed more and that made me happier than drugs. I started helping others. This has been what has saved my life. I was going through outpatient treatment at the time, so between that and starting my support group, I knew that I wanted recovery. I knew it was time. Helping others gives you a sense of purpose and takes your mind off of negative urges. Be careful not to let yourself get overwhelmed in the process. I am still learning, and there are several times I have tried to take on too much. You have to make sure you are still helping yourself in the process. You can reach out and help other family members with things that need to be done. Preparing food, helping to greet people that come to visit your loved one, or maybe assisting someone with transportation that is coming in from out of town. Engage in Positive Activities – Exercise is good for everything! It helps you mentally, physically, and emotionally. Take a walk, or take your dog for a walk. I have cats, so I take them outside often to get my mind off of things. Watch a movie or listen to some music. I don’t go anywhere without my headphones. They are my safety net. If you have a hobby you enjoy, engage in your hobby. I’ve recently started sewing. Again, isolating is never a good idea! Don’t spend time alone, lying around, get out of the house, and engage in a positive activity.
Get Professional Addiction Help
A little recap about staying sober after a death in the family. First off, allow yourself to grieve and don’t grieve alone. Do not isolate yourself! Stick to your program. Get to meetings, talk to your sponsor or therapist. Surround yourself with people in your support system. Don’t bottle your feelings up; talk about what’s on your mind or journal your feelings. Reach out and offer to help with arrangements or help someone else in need. Lastly, engage in positive activities; get yourself out of the house. If you or someone you love needs treatment, reach out to an addiction specialist at Evoke Massachusetts or you can contact us around the clock. We are always available to assist you.