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How to Deal with Grief in Recovery

The death of a loved one is difficult under any circumstances. Losing someone close can leave you feeling overwhelmed, lost, depressed, guilty, or even sick. If you are in recovery, this is a dangerous time. Extreme sadness, pain, and loneliness are potent relapse triggers. If you have recently lost someone, it’s crucial to take steps to avoid relapse. Here are some suggestions.

Reach out.

Whatever you do, don’t isolate yourself. A death is when families come together to support each other. Even if you aren’t on the best terms with some of your family, they will at least understand your pain. Reach out to friends and let them know what’s going on.

Go to meetings.

If you are early in recovery, you may be going to meetings every day. That’s great; keep going and share what you’re going through. If you’ve been in recovery for a while, you may go to meetings less frequently or you may have stopped going completely. Start going again, every day if necessary. No one will judge you for having been gone. Some people there will certainly have been through something similar. Even if you have no one else to rely on, you can go to meetings for support.

Don’t try to avoid the pain.

Losing someone you love hurts. Being afraid of feeling the pain can lead you to make bad decisions. It’s normal to be sad when someone dies and it eventually goes away, or at least it drops to a background level. Trying to avoid it or push it away only makes it worse. Accepting it and riding it out is the fastest way to heal.

Don’t hold on to the pain.

The corollary to not avoiding the pain is not holding on to the pain. Sometimes we feel like when someone has died, we should keep feeling bad about it, like maybe feeling better means we’re forgetting our loved one, as if the only proper way to honor her memory is to feel terrible from now on. No one who loves us would want us to feel that way, but people hold on to grief all the time. When the pain starts to go away, let it go.

See a therapist.

Sometimes death can mess with our heads. People react in strange ways, ways they don’t understand themselves. It might help to see a grief counselor or therapist if you feel like you’re not quite in control or you just need someone to help you sort out your feelings.

Grief is difficult, but it’s just another test. If you can find support and you’re willing to ride out the pain, you have a pretty good chance of staying in recovery if you are determined to do so. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox safely and decide on a treatment strategy. Call us today at 844-325-9168 or email us at to learn more.