Tragedy happens on its own time. It doesn’t wait because it knows you’re in a vulnerable place. The loss of someone you love could happen at any time of your life.
If losing someone happens in your early recovery, when you’re commitment to sobriety is not yet strong, then it could place a danger on your well being. You might have desires to drink or use drugs as a means to cope with the grief.
If you’re experiencing a loss and you’re in recovery there are a few things you can do to strengthen your recovery and not give into any relapses. First, you may need to include grief counseling in your process of healing – not only healing from the loss but also healing from the addiction. In other words you can weave into your addiction treatment plan time for grieving and healing from your loss.
The grieving process that you undergo is likely not going to be a non-linear process. You’re likely going to feel a wide range of feelings during this time. These feelings may include:
Feelings of loss – You’re likely going to deeply long for your loved one. You’ll miss him or her and that sense of loss may hurt. It’s okay to feel these feelings of loss, pain, hurt, and grief. Sometimes this sort of loss has been described as traumatic, especially when realizing that person isn’t going to return to your life. It’s an incredibly deep pain that is hard to describe. No matter how difficult it is, allowing yourself to feel it will help the healing process.
Feelings of sadness – You may need to cry during the grieving process. And this might even happen during your drug addiction therapy. Sometimes having someone who is listening openly and respectfully can facilitate feeling safe enough to cry and express those deep feelings of sadness. In fact, for someone who is grieving on their road to recovery, drug addiction therapy is precisely for this purpose. Expressing those feelings by crying can prevent alternative unhealthier coping mechanisms, such as drug use and relapse.
Feelings of laughter – It sounds odd, but sometimes part of grieving is laughing. Recalling the good times, remembering the experiences you shared together can bring on smiles and laughter. This is also a part of the grieving process, and this too is welcome in your drug addiction therapy experience. In fact, laughter is not a sign that you don’t love your friend of family member, and it’s not a sign of less grief. Instead, it’s often a sign that you’re healing in your grieving. You’re coming to terms with the loss. You’re beginning to accept the idea that your loved one is gone but that you can still stay connected to him or her through memory, love, and laughter.
Feelings of moving on – At some point, you’re going to move on with your life. You might remarry or stop thinking about the loss as often. You might be ready to move or get a new job. Whatever it is, it’s okay to move on. It’s not a sign that you don’t love the deceased. It’s a sign that you’re healing.
As you move through this process, it’s important to remember to consistently use your coping tools. You don’t want these feelings to lead you to drink or use drugs. Instead, you can allow yourself to feel the full range of these feelings without drinking or using drugs.
Working with a therapist or drug counselor is ideal for moving through this kind of grieving process while staying sober at the same time.
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