How to Cope With Grief in Recovery

How to Cope With Grief in Recovery

Life events such as losing a loved one still happen when you are in recovery. When someone you care about passes, the emotional reactions can be intense. The heaviness of grief can linger and hinder your progress. To prevent relapses from happening when you experience grief, you need tools to better cope with it.

Grief and Its Many Emotions

Whether you have a loved one pass by natural death or a sudden accident, or you lose a job or experience a natural disaster, the pain of that significant loss can be overwhelming. Nobody is ever prepared for this kind of grief. You might be surprised to find yourself going through different emotions, including sadness, shock, denial, anger, despair, and numbness.

These strong emotions are a volatile mix when you are in addiction recovery. Your brain is still healing and its emotional regulation functions may not be fully restored yet. Negative emotions may fuel cravings and trigger a relapse. Amid this significant life event, you may feel you just need something to numb the pain, and drugs or alcohol will be the first things that come to mind.

Signs of Emotional Disorders Due to Grief

Depending on the circumstances, some grief can cause intense and unrelenting pain. It can feel almost impossible to work through it alone. You may develop complicated emotional disorders in response to grief. Emotional disorders like depression can stifle and even backtrack your recovery progress as well as prolong your grieving period.

For example, parents who lose young children to accidents or illnesses can experience emotional disorders. Time alone does not heal all wounds. If you find yourself losing energy for even the most basic tasks, having thoughts of self-harm or suicide, throwing yourself into activities like work or exercise, or can’t shake intense and unrelenting emotions in the wake of grief, it’s time to seek help. Grief can be unbearable and you should not suffer alone, especially if you are in recovery from addiction.

Struggle Through the Rough Patch or Numb the Pain?

Many people know about the different stages of grieving. Each stage requires a different level and kind of self-care. Health professionals have many tips for each stage. However, practicing self-care when you’re grieving is easier said than done. Grief and its many emotions fluctuate and tend to linger. You may get stuck with anger or sadness for a long time.

Awareness is important. While allowing yourself to grieve, you must process these difficult emotions and even welcome them. Even when some of these negative emotions have overstayed their welcome, there are healthy ways to cope.

By now, you know very well what substances can do to your mental health. Maybe they can provide some temporary relief from emotional pain, but the long-term effects are incredibly damaging. You will still struggle with these same negative emotions, only they will last longer the more you try to drown them out. Relapsing is the last thing you need right now.

Finding Extra Support for Grief in Recovery

Going through bereavement in recovery is certainly a time when you need extra support. Find a trustworthy person to share your feelings and emotional struggles with. Stay in close communication with your therapist and 12-Step support groups. If you have pulled away from these sources of support, consider reconnecting with them during this difficult time.

Grief frequently leads to social isolation. Resist the urge to socially withdraw. Instead, find opportunities to interact with positive and compassionate people who care about you. When the weather allows, spend more time outdoors. The healing power of nature can surprise you.

Equally important is sticking to your relapse prevention plan. Do not let strong emotions get in the way of keeping up with a healthy regimen. Remember the key principles of maintaining sobriety. Stay in touch with your 12-Step group sponsor or recovery-supportive family members who can recommend additional resources for you during your grieving period.

Finding Closure and Motivation

After you have tried all these above-mentioned support resources, and you feel you have worked through much of your grief, it may be time to find some closure. You might plan a commemoration in memory of a loved one who has passed, start looking for new opportunities, and practice gratitude for the things and people you do have around you.

Remember that recovery is all about keeping up your motivation. Even if relapses happen, they are not the end of the world or even the end of recovery. You can always pick up the broken pieces and try again. As long as you are willing to try again, there is always hope for recovery.

In sum, grief can be intense and derail your recovery momentum. No words can describe the wide range of difficult emotions you will experience. People in recovery need extra support when bereavement happens. Don’t hesitate to reach out to other loved ones, peers, or professionals when you need help making it through.

Emotional health is essential for recovery. Every physical relapse begins with an emotional relapse. In cases of bereavement, the risk of emotional relapse can be very high. Nobody should be coping with the pain of loss in isolation. If you or a loved one have been facing difficulties with emotional health due to sudden or intense grief, Laguna Shores Recovery offers evidence-based treatment and a dedicated team of professionals to guide you through recovery. Our experienced therapists can provide long-term support to recovering individuals. You can find the best 12-Step peer group here too. Give us a call at (866) 774-1532 today. We support you on the path of grief and recovery.