Grief is a normal response to difficult circumstances in life. Whether it is death, loss of a friendship, divorce, moving, or other situation, the challenge is still the same. The grief can consume a person’s life if they get lost within its depths. Letting grief become too overwhelming can lead to less ability to function every day, inability to get back to activities of daily life, and an overwhelming sense of disconnection from yourself and others. Find out more about how to cope better with grief in recovery and to seek hope for better days ahead.
What Happens in Grief
One of the biggest challenges with grief is how it impacts your life. Mentally, physically, and spiritually you feel a sense of loss in your bones. It can literally ache to grieve the loss of a pet, a loved one, or experience some other type of loss. Some people feel all the joy and vitality drained from their life or a blocked connection to others because of loss. Children who experience loss are at higher risk of mental health disorders and substance use issues as teens and adults because they have less mechanisms for dealing with grief than others who may have had more support for loss early on.
When a person experiences grief and loss, it may become so overwhelming they try to numb out on things like television, food, or other avenues to cope. The risk is they self-medicate with alcohol and drugs while experiencing the overwhelming grief-related pain and hopelessness of their situation. When you are suffering from deep pain from loss, you feel isolated in that world of pain only you think you know. This can drive you to leave sobriety and start drinking or using drugs, or to pick it up fresh from the pain. It can take years to become released from the throes of addiction and peel back the layers of grief and woundedness you are carrying.
If you are in a season of grieving or supporting a loved one through grief and addiction, there is help available. Some people find the best support is loved ones who care about them and their experiences. Here are some tips:
- Listen attentively and with an open heart
- Offer more questions than answers and be curious about what is causing the pain
- Let the person know you are there for them
- Support their personal journey with grief rather than trying to ‘fix it’ or make it better
- Help them discover other means of support if they are struggling to cope with daily life, including recovery groups, support systems outside the family structure, and therapeutic modalities
The key is to think about how to find the best support for your personal journey of grief. If you support a loved one, it can help to try these tips and just be present with the loved one who is suffering. The best hope for someone who is grieving is to know others are there for them to walk alongside them for the journey.
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