The month of January has not been very kind to many. We said goodbye to music icons David Bowie and Glenn Frye, and the formidable Alan Rickman (to name a few), all within the dawn of 2016. As we watched the world grieve the loss of these artists we wonder how one recovering from addiction deals with a death of a loved one, sudden or otherwise. One of, it not the greatest challenges to sobriety is how to deal with life’s ups and downs and death is definitely a down and, without the option of turning to drugs or alcohol how does a person in recovery cope? Mourning the death of a loved one is ongoing, and the first year is the most difficult. First birthday, first Christmas, first Mother’s Day or Father’s day (when mourning a parent), are all difficult and can challenge one’s commitment to sobriety. We have compiled several coping techniques to help conquer your year of “firsts”.
- Anticipation of the “first” celebratory date without your loved one is worse than the actual day and it will pass. In the days preceding this date busy yourself with tasks that will help occupy your mind so you do not fixate on the day itself.
- Make plans to be around friends and family on those days you know will challenge your resolve to stay sober. Do not place yourself in a situation which will leave your vulnerable to your old destructive habits.
- Talk to someone. Sometimes all we need is the assurance that we are not alone in our pain, chances are you are not the only one who is feeling this same loss. Reach out and tell friends and family which days you need support (first birthday, first anniversary, etc.) and let them know how they can help.
- If you are overwhelmed seek the help of your sobriety support group or a bereavement councillor.
- Remember that nothing in life is permanent and just as feelings of joy and happiness are fleeting, so too are feeling of loss and sorrow.
Everyone mourns in their own way, however trying to escape this process with drugs and alcohol is futile. Implementing strategies learned in your recovery program and support groups will help you to not only stay sober but, to safely mourn the passing of your loved one.