Recovery is a lifelong commitment that takes vigilance, discipline, and resiliency. While we do our best to prepare ourselves in a world of unpredictability, sometimes certain obstacles arise that feel impossible to overcome. The loss of a loved one is hard for anybody, prepared or otherwise. We never know how we will handle a situation such as death. This can stir up many emotions creating many triggers, and the effects death can have on our recovery can be detrimental. This is why it is important to understand our emotions and how to process them during this time of grief.
A patient going through recovery is doing great, resisting all temptations, but then a close family member or friend suddenly dies. What happens now? Patients in recovery may have spent years using substances when times got hard. The death of a loved one will certainly challenge their sobriety. The urge to begin using again might feel stronger than ever before. So how might a person in recovery cope without falling back into old habits?
- Grieving is essential during these tough times, and a person must allow this grieving period to happen.
- It is okay to feel this way. Emotions exist to help us deal with situations. Grieving is one of them, and a person must be honest with how they are feeling. These feelings have to surge through us in order to begin healing. Much like the detox period, this will be hard to endure, but necessary and it will enact the healing process. It just takes time and patience to make it through these hard times.
- During this time, seeking help is also recommended. If the patient is seeing a therapist or attending support groups or meetings, it will be beneficial to continue to go and talk through their feelings. These supportive atmospheres might help someone in recovery avoid relapse. Maintaining the structure that has worked in staying clean and sober is important.
- Avoid isolation for long periods. Isolation could potentially cause bad decisions.
Honor the Loved One
In an article published by Recovery Village, they suggest taking a day to remember your loved one by planning something (on your terms, and what you are comfortable with) to celebrate their life. In doing so this might help a person bring about peace and closure.
- If a patient finds that they are still struggling, despite attending the meeting and/or talking with their therapist, perhaps a patient should seek additional help from a doctor or spiritual advisor. Just know that when it comes to sobriety, no amount of help needed is wrong. Everybody needs help at some point in life.
- In the same article, it is suggested that perhaps the patient creates a new goal. Not everything that comes out of death needs to be sad or negative, there is a place to be optimistic and create something positive. It is advised that the patient create a goal that can be accomplished in a fairly short amount of time so that they can begin to generate positive momentum. It should be focused on an area of life that is important. For example, if you play guitar and have always wanted to learn that one song, the goal could be as simple as learning it.
If I Have a Drink
Let’s say the worst has happened. This trying event proved to be too much and the patient relapsed. Just keep in mind the following:
- You are not the only one to ever relapse during recovery.
- Statistics support that relapse is part of recovery.
- This is the trying time when you need to pool all of your resources together and use everything you have learned from recovery to stay clean and get back on track as soon as possible.
- You should forgive yourself for the relapse.
- You should also attend meetings, talk it through with a therapist, and try to learn from this misstep.
- View this as a fresh start, to create new goals to help keep them motivated throughout the recovery process.
Understand that everybody makes mistakes and has setbacks. However, these setbacks and choices do not have to define us. Instead of avoiding getting hung up on these mistakes, see them as an opportunity to reinvent yourself. Life goes on, and recovery will, too. Every now and again there needs to be a transformation in order to stay the course.
Recovery is about being able to cope with a number of predictable and unpredictable situations that life throws at us. True Recovery believes that there is a method for everyone to benefit from when it comes to a successful recovery. For any questions or concerns regarding recovery please call us at (866) 399-6528.