It is an unfortunate fact, that for those of us in recovery, the loss of our friends is an all too frequent occurrence. An estimated ninety-five thousand people die in the United States of America annually of alcohol-related factors alone. The chronic impact that alcohol abuse has on our bodies can be devastating. It can cause liver damage, heart disease and stroke to name a few, with many people unable to overcome these illnesses. The instance of death by suicide and drug and alcohol-related accident is also a grim reality within the community. Coping with death in the Recovery Community can be a traumatic reality and it is vital we know how to support ourselves and each other through it.

Preventing relapse.

I know from experience that losing a friend to addiction causes grief that is inexplicable. It can leave you with feelings of guilt, simply because you are alive and they didn’t make it. You often hear in recovery circles “but for the grace of God go I.” Realizing that you have skated too close to the edge of death yourself at times, can shake you to your core. It can be a huge wake-up call and make us strengthen our resolve to stay well. However, it can leave some of us with a feeling of hopelessness also.

This is a crucial time to stay close to your community. Discussing your feelings with your group members or a professional is vital to work through these thoughts and feelings. Numbing pain is where addicts excel and in traumatic times it can inevitably be our first thought. However, acting on thoughts is a choice. If you struggle with making the right choice, getting appropriate advice is key. Relapse does not have to be part of your process.

Taking care of yourself.

When we lose someone in our Recovery Community, a tsunami of grief can wash over everyone. We can drown in that sea of emotion if we allow it. Coping with death in the Recovery Community can be extra traumatic because everyone relates. Enter self-care. Keeping your routine and self-care habits will keep you grounded and may save your own life. Meetings, prayer, meditation, exercise, or whatever self-care process you have adopted is a top priority. I absolutely understand that this is easier said than done. You can feel scared about what happened. It becomes all too apparent how what happened relates so closely to your own life. It is a shock and it is crushing. However, letting go of your own care at this time will only increase your struggle and the struggle of those around you. Being able to take care of yourself is one of the biggest gifts you can give to those who love you. Always remember that!

Accepting your grief.

Feelings of any kind can be tricky, especially if you are relatively new to recovery. Numbing feelings was once normal. Feeling emotion may be new and complicated. You may not know how to appropriately show emotion or even feel embarrassed about it. Emotional expression is normal (thankfully), and in times of distress, releasing them is a hugely positive thing. Grief in particular can feel like a tidal wave, ebbing and flowing from feeling normal to complete devastation. There are five stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. It would be great if these stages came in order so we know what to expect. But, as with all things human, they will come at their own time and pace. Your job is to be prepared for whatever comes and accept that you are hurting. Again, reach out for help and support. You are not alone.

I hold all my friends whom I have lost to addiction and ill mental health close to my heart. Most days I will see something that will remind me of one of them. I have pictures of some that I cherish. I even have a picture that one friend created for me. It hangs proudly on my wall with his name signed in the bottom corner. I still cry sometimes and I miss them desperately. Their gift to me is that they keep me strong to fight another day and I hope you will too….

 

 

 

Author

Nicola is a Health & Wellness coach with 20 years experience helping people heal and find their path. She is a qualified Reflexologist, Masseuse and Life Coach. She has created content for intherooms.com for 7 years. She was Editor at iloverecovery.com and has written for many recovery publications online and in print. She is also an author at The Girl God books. She has lived with type 1 diabetes for 38 years, since she was 7 years old.

1 Comment

  1. On the topic of grief and loss, I have several qualifying factors. I lost two family members to suicide. I am an Adult Child of Alcoholic/Dysfunctional Family. I worked with people with HIV/AIDS in the early l990’s and experienced the the Life/Death/Transition workshops with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, M.D., author of On Death and Dying. I am also a medium and clairvoyant and have channeled messages from the other side for many hundreds of clients. I am a listed reader and trainer with the Edgar Cayce Foundation (www.edgarcayce.org) and accurately predicted Skylab landing near Perth, Australia in l979. I have been trained in hospice, and have worked with the elderly in nursing homes. My brother died of cancer at the age of 49, after more than 21 years of sobriety in AA. I have been an active member of 12-step groups for more than a dozen years and currently host a Saturday ACOA group at 11 AM, eastern time, on zoom.com. All are welcome to join us. Our meeting ID is: 823 5549 4794 and Password is 576554. We meet from 11 AM to 12:30 PM. We read program literature, do non-dominant writing accessing the inner child, and then have an open discussion meeting. I have some written materials on amazon.com for sale if you’re curious about my point of view. I also teach psychic development and have had some students recover addictions through this training, because they learn to pay attention to their own Higher Self, Guides and Angels.

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