How to Deal With Death And Grief in Recovery

January 28th, 2020

Losing a loved one or a close friend is an experience that is met with pain and sadness. It is a time where emotions can often be confusing. The grieving process is also often met with feelings of both loss and depression. These symptoms of grieving are entirely normal parts of the process and are to be expected when someone experiences the loss of a loved one. 

Our ability to cope with sadness is tested in the face of a tragedy or loss. It is important to know that feelings of depression, intense sadness, and grief normally last as long as 6 months. There is no set time frame, or even way the grieving process should look. Instead, it is important to find and equip yourself with a support network who can walk with you through a time grief. This is especially important to find for those in addiction recovery. 

For those recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, the grieving process can be a very difficult time that contains a high risk for relapse. Those who have been sober for many years are even susceptible to relapsing in the wake of a traumatic experience such as the death of a loved one. 

There are several tools you can equip to help you or a loved one in recovery feel supported during this process while staying sober. Today, we are going to give a few ideas of ways to feel supported while grieving and to avoid relapse during this time of tragedy.

Seek out Help

One of the most important aspects of living in and overcoming the grieving process is to find just one or even several people to reach out to during this time of grief. It is almost impossible to go through the grieving process alone, especially if you are in recovery. Finding someone to be a listening ear can be a powerful thing to have while grieving. The cravings to use while be at their strongest when the grieving process is most fresh. It is important to reach to friends, family or even medical professionals for support as soon as possible. Finding a support network during the grieving process is one of the most important tools you can equip. This support network is paramount to helping stave off the desires that will lead to relapsing. 

Acknowledge your Grief

One of the worst things that can be done in the grieving process is to attempt to bottle up your emotions and suppress your feelings of grief. Bottling up these feelings can only be done temporarily; you can’t avoid the pain of grieving forever. Suppressing these feelings of grief, sadness, and loss will only lengthen the grieving process for yourself. Ignoring your grief is especially dangerous for those in recovery. Pushing back your emotions for the time being can only lead to more traumatic feelings of grief down the road. For those who have dealt with alcohol or drug addiction, often the only they find to cope with this avoidable intense grief is to relapse and start using drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism. This can be an extremely dangerous combination that can unravel years of growth and successful sobriety. Staying sober whole experiencing the grieving process is only possible if you can accept and acknowledge that you are feeling grief. Doing so can help expedite the process and prevent you from experiencing an intense desire to relapse.

Get Outside and Get Moving

During a time of grief, it is more important than ever to care for both your mind and body. The grieving process places immense amounts of stress and pain on the human body. Getting outside and moving your body can help to alleviate some of the stress you’re feeling as well as distract you from the emotions you are feeling. While exercising or even going on a walk is one of the last things you feel like doing while experiencing grief, doing so can be extremely beneficial to dealing with and overcoming grief. Allowing yourself to do the activities and hobbies you enjoy can be an important aid to the emotions of grief. Getting outside and going on a walk or a bike ride is a valuable way to help deal with grief. Allowing yourself to feel good physically can help you feel better mentally. 

Maintain a Healthy Diet

Much like keeping up with your health through movement and exercise, it is also important to keep a healthy diet while going through the grieving process. One of the side effects of grief for you might be a lack of appetite. While eating may be hard, fueling your body and helping it to feel good through eating a healthy and balanced diet can help your mind to feel better and experience less anguish. Good nutrition can help to equip your body with the mental and physical strength necessary to deal with the stress that you feel as a result of grief. Lack of eating or of a healthy diet can also make you feel foggy which will make it harder to resist the temptations of drugs or alcohol. Maintaining a healthy diet can equip your body and mind to deal with stress and be able to resist the desires of drugs and alcohol that may be stronger as a result of the grief. Keeping as many things as normal by exercising and eating right can help you to successfully walk through the grieving process.  

The feelings of loss and grief coupled with a current battle to overcome drugs and alcohol can be a very difficult combination. It is important to equip yourself with as many tools to prevent relapse and properly grieve during this tumultuous time. Reaching out for help can be one of the valuable things you can do while going through the grieving process. Grieving can be a difficult and lengthy process but the pain can be eased by finding the support you need during this time of grief. 

Reach out to our admissions team today to learn more about how we can help you or a loved one find the path to recovery.