Losing a friend or family is distressing. The pain can be severe and seemingly unbearable. When you’re in recovery, that pain may appear to be more traumatic. It can leave you in despair, shock, or anger. For this reason, you may have a hard time trying to figure out how to react while in recovery.  It’s advisable and helpful to deal with grief appropriately to avoid relapse.

There are essential methods you can follow to help in addressing grief and dealing with it during recovery. All of these approaches involve maintaining healthy habits and utilizing support or guidance from mental health professionals during the grieving period. Keep reading to get more details about how to deal with grief while in recovery.

Grief and Addiction

Grief may trigger addiction when individuals don’t address it appropriately. Most individuals may turn to the use of substances or certain negative behaviors to deal with the pain from grief. Note that grief may cause frustration and anger. In some cases, it may also result in depression or anxiety disorders.

According to a study[1], men experiencing grief are twice likely to experience an alcohol addiction compared to others. Research also proves that individuals suffering from complicated grief are more vulnerable to addiction due to efforts directed towards feeling better. Complicated grief is prolonged grief occurring in 10 percent to 20 percent of individuals experiencing grief.

Stages of Grief

There are different stages of grief that may help individuals understand loss and help through the process. Here are five of the significant stages of grief[2]:

1.    Shock and Denial

Shock occurs when an individual hears or witnesses a disheartening event. The act of denial gives most individuals time to process the news of the happening. It’s a defense mechanism that may temporarily help the individual to feel numb to the intensity of the condition. As individuals move from this stage, emotions may begin to surface.

2.    Anger

Anger is an approach that most individuals use to mask the effects of grief. People may redirect this anger at others individuals or objects around to feel better. In some cases, anger doesn’t always appear as clear-cut rage but in the form of resentment or bitterness.

3.    Bargaining

This stage describes the way individuals try to regain control or logically understand what occurred in a certain event. In this stage, you may find yourself asking questions like “what if?” Religious individuals may also attempt to make promises to “a higher power” for healing.

4.    Depression

Depression is one of the major stages of grief. `Some actions that you may take include isolating yourself from others. Similar to the other stages, a depressed feeling is very overwhelming. This depression may cause a significant change in sleeping habits and a difference in productivity level.

5.    Acceptance and Hope

This stage is the final level of grief. It means that you have accepted the happening and understand its significance in your life. At this stage, individuals may change their perceptions about many other things. Hope makes you feel better and reassures you that there’s a lot more to enjoy in life.

Coping With Grief

Now that you have a good knowledge of the five stages of grief, it’s important to know how to cope with the feeling. Here are some major strategies that will prove helpful when coping with grief:

Maintain good health

Maintaining a healthy diet[3] and avoiding stress are imperative when coping with grief. It’s important to consume a balanced diet, exercise, and sleep appropriately. It would help if you endeavored to avoid any physical activities that may induce stress.

Allow Feelings

It’s important to allow yourself to feel the raw emotions that come with grief. The entire process of grieving is a unique method that helps you in accepting the loss of a loved one. Note that it’s essential to seek professional help if your feelings begin to make you close to a relapse.

Exercise Mindfulness

Mindfulness[4] helps individuals to stay aware of what they are experiencing through their senses or the mind via emotions and thoughts. Common mindfulness techniques include meditation and prayer. The purpose of mindfulness is to quiet the flood of strong emotion, which occurs while grieving.

Look out for Triggers

It’s important to anticipate the things that can lead you to feeling grief after getting better. Examples of these factors that may classify as grief triggers include old photos of the loved one and objects that remind you of them. It’s advisable to prepare for the triggers by speaking to a mental health professional, or a trusted loved one.

Build a Support System

When you begin to feel sad, it’s important to have people to speak to about your feelings. Grief can make you decide to isolate yourself from people, but building a support system of people you trust is essential. Note that the support system may include your family members or friends.

Final Thoughts

Grieving during recovery can be highly challenging. It almost feels impossible to cope with the process while in recovery. However, following helpful coping strategies like speaking to a professional, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and looking out for triggers will help. Grief is difficult, but it’s imperative to know that life has a lot of good things to offer.

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