Nothing can rattle you like the loss of a loved one, or even the loss of someone you know. There may be people who you barely know or people you used to know but have fallen out of contact with, that when they pass, you are still shaken by it. There is something about the finality of death, the realization of what it means, that completely breaks you down. It’s shocking and, oftentimes, shocking. Even as you watch someone age and you feel it coming, you still just never really realize what’s going to happen. A part of you feels like it can’t happen. It’s that comfort in our lives and our familiarity with life with that person in it that keeps us clinging to the possibility that maybe they will keep living. But that’s not how life is and people pass away, leaving us to figure out how we feel about it.
If it is someone we are close with, perhaps a relative, we carry a sense of regret with the loss. We wonder if we did enough to show them that we loved them. We go over every interaction we had with them and hope to find out that we were kind enough, loving enough, to give them the happiness they deserved. There is remorse in your actions because you won’t feel like you did enough. For the people you are closest to, you feel like you could have done more. You could have called more, visited more, and made sure that they didn’t feel forgotten. You let life get in the way of what matters, and it’s your fault. You blame yourself for something that has no blame. For whatever reason, we assign that blame and burden on ourselves with no good reason for it. The truth of the matter is that we did enough. We gave them love, we gave them the appreciation, and they knew they were loved. Sometimes life may have caused us to not be in contact as much as other times, or something comes up that keeps us from visiting, but the very fact that there were the moments when you saw them is what is most important.
But what about your recovery process? You focused so much time and effort on that part of your life that you never really reached out and checked in with them. Is that selfish No. Not at all. You had to take that time to focus on yourself, otherwise, where would you be? You had to get better and they knew that. They loved you just as much as you loved them, and we can guarantee that they cared more about your well-being, your recovery than if they got a phone call that day. They wanted you to take that time for yourself, and they were always there, waiting, for when you were better. They cheered you on from the sidelines and loved watching you fight for yourself. So don’t carry that guilt around with you. Let it off your shoulders, you don’t have to carry that burden. We know that feeling of guilt is powerful and tends to hold on even when trying to drop it, but we encourage you to try as hard as you can.
No matter who the person was, a relative or a distant acquaintance, let whatever amount of grief is present process. It will take some time and it may hurt, but the grief needs to be there. Grief is often one of the most powerful emotions we can feel and it can completely derail our emotional stability. Let the tears flow and the sadness permeate through your body. Grief won’t set you back with your recovery, we promise you. There may be flare-ups every now and then, but it doesn’t mean you have experienced a setback. Just let yourself feel the emotions and process them as they come; you don’t need to force or rush anything. Let the grief take as much time as it needs, short or long, and let your body naturally move on. It’s difficult but it’s necessary.
Loss is a harrowing experience. It humbles us and forces us to think about ourselves and the life we have led. It changes our mindset and the way we treat others. It has a powerful way of affecting us more than we thought possible. No matter what that amount of effect is, we have to let ourselves feel the grief and trust that it won’t set us back in our recovery. We have to let ourselves be free of the guilt that can come with it, and forgive ourselves for any mistakes we may have made. Death is an inevitable part of life but that doesn’t make it any easier. It is hard to handle and cope with, but you have the skills to do so. Mental illness or not, you are strong enough to get through it.
If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with anxiety or mental illness, do not hesitate to contact the team here at True Recovery. Our facility is located in Newport Beach, California, with our supportive housing located close to our campus in Costa Mesa. Take advantage of the local beaches, nature preserves, and Orange County community while we fight for you. Contact us at (866) 399-6528 or [email protected]