Grief is one of the emotions we struggle with the most when living with addiction and mental illness. We’re often confused about how to deal with it, as it can be so overwhelming and overpowering. Our grief can be intense and palpable. We can feel it as a heavy companion that stays with us throughout the day and visits us in our dreams. We can struggle to get away from our grief and feel as though it will never leave us alone. It can make us feel drained, depleted, confused and hopeless. We can be struggling with emotional distress and anguish for many years after the initial loss. We can still be deeply affected by the loss, even long after we think we should have come to terms with it or gotten over it. Grief operates differently for everyone. There is no one way to grieve, and there is no right or wrong when it comes to grieving. There are some things we can do, however, to help ourselves through the grieving process.
Don’t rush yourself or be impatient with your grief. There is no proper timeline for grieving. Some people will rush to feel better, to move on and let go, thinking that this will help them release the pain and stop grieving sooner. The truth is, rushing our grief often pushes it down deeper within us, where we suppress it and avoid thinking about it. When we do this, we’re often preventing ourselves from moving through the pain in order to really heal it. Our avoidance often makes the pain worse. Let yourself feel your grief.
Don’t beat yourself up for the grief you’re feeling. Loss is a common and universal part of human nature. We all sustain loss of some kind at one point or another. Our sadness doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with us. It simply means we’re human and are connected to our emotions.
Try to picture your grief as energy, as that’s exactly what our emotions are. When that energy gets stuck and remains stagnant within us, it often ends up causing us more pain. Try to let the energy of your grief move through you. Cry when you need to. Let it out, by writing, by expressing yourself creatively, by speaking on it with someone you trust. Move your body, and let the healing power of movement and exercise be cathartic for you.
Riverside Recovery is committed to helping you uncover the issues fueling your addictions. Our treatment programs include multiple forms of therapy, family workshops and mindfulness-based relapse prevention education. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information.