If you’re grieving in addiction recovery, you might be tempted to try to find out if you’re doing it “right.” In fact, many of us don’t understand that even with a ton of therapy and work, we still feel things the way we feel them. We still react to situations the way we react to them, and we’re still going to struggle with certain situations. The key to truly living clean and sober even through tough times like the loss of a loved one is to understand the process and not question how you feel.

Grief is a process that you have to go through

griefYes, you might be tempted to rush the grieving process, because it’s so miserable, but your brain needs time to process your loss before it can move on and be happy again. It has to go through the disconnect and understand that it has to continue on without your loved one. Then, your brain begins to understand, feel the loss, and ultimately, heal again.

It’s tough, grieving in addiction recovery, because back when you were actively battling your addiction, your reaction would have been to numb your feelings by getting high or drunk. Now, you have to actually feel them, and that’s really hard.

So, in addition to grieving, you’re probably coping with not knowing how to feel things the right way. The good news is that as long as you’re staying clean and sober, you can’t really do it wrong. You can shut down for a while if you want, you can yell, scream and punch your pillow if you want. You can sleep, cry, eat, run… Whatever helps you to cope with your feelings – except using or drinking – is pretty much okay. Letting yourself go through the process is the most important thing you can do for you, and that’s not always easy.

Day by day

While you probably want to fast forward for a while so that you can get through grieving in addiction recovery, it’s not healthy to do so. Many people find that only time heals their heartache, and there are many joyful moments that they would miss out on, even though they are still grieving. Understanding that life – your life – is fluid, and it is possible to hurt and be happy at the same time can help you to understand what you’re going through and help you to better cope with your loss.

Grieving in addiction recovery is much like grieving for anyone else. As long as you stay clean and sober and allow yourself to feel the stages as they come, you will likely find that you emerge from this chapter in your life emotionally healthier and more grateful for the life you had than you thought you could.