This article is intended to be used by the general public for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be used as a reference for educational research papers, nor is it a reflection of the services available through our Rehab Program in Thailand.
There are two things certain in life, living and dying. At some point in life we will all experience seeing or being part of new life, but we will also experience death. When in recovery dealing with death and the grief that follows can be especially difficult. Everyone experiences grief in recovery differently. Feelings of guilt, denial, sadness, and despair can easily become overwhelming. When in recovery, these intense feelings can lead to relapse if the person is not prepared to deal with what is happening. That is why it is so important to discuss grief before and during the actual grief process. This simply means that the person in recovery needs a plan on dealing with strong emotions and tough situations. Even those who have been in recovery for a long time are at risk to relapse during times of grief.
Grief can compromise our ability to think clearly. There are some ways to stay strong even during periods of grief. Each of these will be discussed in the rest of the article.
First, reach out for support instead of retreating into yourself. It is tempting to cut yourself off from those you love and care about when you are hurting. Prior to recovery you probably would have simply used to take your focus from the pain, but now you must face the pain. There is no need to do this alone as you can lean on those in your support circle. This is an important part of having a strong support system as the time of need comes around you already have a circle of people who are there to be supportive. These individuals will know of your recovery and can support you if you feel the cravings to use again and relapse.
Next, acknowledge your emotions. You cannot deal with the things you refuse to acknowledge. Grief is strange, you may be angry at the person for dying one minute and overwhelmed and depressed that you have lost a loved on the next. These emotions can be intense, but acknowledging them, writing them, and talking about them will take some of the power from the feelings. Allow yourself to feel the strong emotions without the numbing effects of a drug or alcohol. Just remember that the feelings are just that, they are feelings that cannot harm you. If you allow yourself to feel them and then allow yourself to move on then you can work through grief.
If you were in a support group or seeing a therapist and have stopped or still are and need more sessions than make that call. Asking for support is a sign of strength, not weakness. Knowing you need extra support during a period of grief means that you have learned enough about yourself to ask for help when needed. Additionally, if you have a religion or higher power of any type this is a time that the deity can be a comfort. Pray, meditate, read, or commune in a way that brings you some peace in this turbulent time. Stay connected to others through the experience. You may also want to read encouraging books or articles about dealing with grief in a healthy manner. Others have been where you are and have shared the experiences in print.
Finally, take care of yourself. Make sure you are eating healthy and getting plenty of rest. Push yourself to get up, get dressed, and complete the necessary tasks of the day. This will help you get back to a normal routine or into a new routine to make the emotions easier to deal with. While it is fine to take time to grieve. Letting everything you need to do fall to the wayside can become a hindrance that is overwhelming very quickly.
If you are experiencing grief in recovery then do not be afraid to seek help. Do what is best for you while remaining in recovery. Those who choose recovery have an amazing strength that they often do not feel. Take hold of that inner strength and work through the grief in your life. You can survive if you are willing to do the work.
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