How to Stay Sober Through a Death in the Family
The death of a loved one engraves the loss in our hearts forever. Our ability to survive the loss is sometimes overwhelmed by the feelings of sadness, guilt, denial and despair, which can affect even the most robust person. Grief is a natural response to any major loss: whether it’s a job, home, pet, friend, child, spouse or other loved one. You can also grieve over the losses resulting from your addiction.
There is nothing weak, irrational or unhealthy about feeling grief. What is unhealthy, is trying to avoid grief by pushing it aside or ignoring it. It’s impossible to not think about your loss, so the solution, some believe, is to stop thinking at all. And one way to numb the pain is to start drinking, which guides an individual along the path of losing sobriety.
It’s important to remember that giving into the use of alcohol or drugs won’t eliminate the pain from your loss. As soon as the high wears off, the grief will still be there. The only way to release strong emotions is to feel them.
Ways to Maintain Sobriety During a Grieving Situation
Recognizing everyone is particularly vulnerable to substance abuse and addiction during an emotional crisis, here are some ideas to help you hang onto your sobriety:
– Reach Out for Emotional Support: The feeling of loneliness can plunge you into the extremities of grief for your loved one and prove to be a trigger for addiction relapse. Therefore, reach out for emotional support rather than retreating within yourself. It’s important to call for the support of family, friends and others to recover in this situation. Stay connected to people who understand what you’re going through.
– Get Back to Daily Meetings: It’s not unusual to attend meetings frequently in the early period of recovery. With the progress of time, the frequency of group meetings gets reduced as our sobriety gets stronger. Attending recovery meetings regularly is highly recommended if you’re dealing with grief. Get back in the habit of going at least once a day for a while.
– Express Your Emotions Creatively: Find a creative outlet to express your emotions safely. Keeping yourself engaged in an activity can be the best way to express your emotions in a healthy manner. Writing poems, songs and stories, journaling, painting, making a scrapbook or playing an instrument are a few of the creative outlets you can use to pay a special tribute to your loss. The creative process will help you work through your emotions.
– Read Encouraging Journals and Articles: Reading another person’s story can be encouraging and help you understand your own feelings. There are books of encouragement that relate to us how to avoid a relapse while grieving. Many also include tips to make it through grief and despair without giving up your Knowing other people faced similar losses and survived will give you hope.
– Occupy Yourself With Positive Activities: You’re likely to dwell on negative thoughts and continue experiencing a strong desire to slip into your old survival mechanism if you keep mourning the death of your loved one lying on a couch. You must instead try to keep yourself occupied with positive, healthy activities like praying, meditation, jogging or taking a brisk walk. Get out of your house to get out of your head.
– Maintain Healthy Eating and Exercise Habits: Keeping up healthy habits can be difficult while combating grief. The risk for relapse is being compounded while you slip into poor eating and exercise habits during the period of mourning. Make a point of keeping your diet and exercise routines intact as much as possible during this emotional crisis.
– Get a Counselor: You shouldn’t endure your grief alone. While in a grieving period, it’s crucial to have friends and family around you, but you can also count on the assistance of a counselor. Seeking professional help in a situation when you feel overwhelmed by your emotions is a good way to demonstrate your ability to care for yourself. Get the help you need before an emotional crisis escalates into a relapse.
It’s easy to fall into unhealthy habits while you are grieving a loss. Many recovering addicts still struggle with handling strong emotions in a safe way. Recognize grieving is a vulnerable time, and take some steps to protect your sobriety while you work through these emotions.
How Does Tranquil Shores Help You Deal With Grief?
The trained and experienced staffs of Tranquil Shores provide emotional support in two ways: During your recovery process, so that you can reach sobriety; and after your recovery, so that you can stay sober. You’ll learn methods that have proven successful in coping with grief and pain, in therapy sessions during treatment.
Afterwards, through the Alumni Group, meeting with other Tranquil Shores “graduates,” you’ll receive encouragement in staying sober, and offer encouragement in return.
Your losses have happened. Some can’t be recovered. But some can. Tranquil Shores will help you recover one of your most important values—your ability to think clearly, to cope successfully with life, to earn your self-respect back and the respect of others. In short, it encourages you to reclaim your life.
*Updated November 1, 2017