It is a sad reality that those of us who live and breathe recovery tend to be more acquainted with death and the loss of those in our lives than the average person. For those of us entering recovery for the first time, it can be especially hard to grapple with the loss of a loved one, either due to a fatal overdose, old age, or other circumstances. It is important we learn to handle traumatic events such as these in a way which does not threaten our continued sobriety, lest we fall victim to relapse ourselves which could easily lead to our own demise.
When we suffer the loss of someone close to us, it is vital we not suppress the resulting emotions as we did in our active addiction. It is natural to feel a great deal of sorrow and melancholy when you have lost someone you have loved. Rather than pushing these emotions to the back of your mind, talk about them with others who are close to you, either in your recovery support circle or family members who are also grieving. By examining and coming to understand your own feelings, reconciling them with your reality, you are able to process the event and move forward in your life without any emotional baggage weighing you down.
Sometimes we struggle to process our emotions in early recovery, as this is an unfamiliar action for us. If you have suffered the loss of a loved one in early sobriety, it is advisable you seek the help of a therapist to help you cope with this tragedy and move past it in a healthy way. Most intensive outpatient programs offer one on one therapy sessions with a counselor, giving you an opportunity to work with a professional to deal with your thoughts and feelings on the matter. The therapist will be able to help you draw out any emotions or beliefs you are still repressing inadvertently as a result of learned behavior. This is an important task, as if you do not expose and process these emotions they will surely hold you back in your efforts to achieve lasting sobriety.
The loss of a loved one is always painful, and unfortunately for those of us in recovery deaths due to overdose are a common occurrence, robbing us of close friends and recovery allies. It is important we use such an unfortunate event to learn and grow in our recovery, and we accomplish this by successfully handling the emotions that come with the grief of loss, rather than suppressing them as we did in active addiction. Talk about your feelings with your sponsor or, better yet, with a therapist, so you can be certain you are handling them in a healthy, productive manner. So long as you seek to address your emotions rather than hide from them, you will continue to succeed in recovery and sobriety!