Grief is undoubtedly challenging, but when you're in recovery, it can feel even more difficult. You might feel alone, angry, and scared. You may want to numb your feelings entirely, causing you to experience high cravings for drugs or alcohol.
Regardless of your particular circumstances, learning to cope with grief in recovery is an important life skill. Loss is an inevitable part of life, and we all have to learn how to manage it.
Even if things feel painful, it's essential to practice healthy coping strategies during this vulnerable time. Let's get into the top tips.
Maintain Your Routine
As best as you can, try to maintain a semblance of normalcy. Follow your usual schedule- wake up and go to sleep at the same times each day. Continue going to work, meetings, and therapy. If you commit to someone or something, stick with it.
Of course, you don't have to follow your routine perfectly. It's reasonable to make some adjustments. Depending on the loss itself, you may have to make some serious changes.
But having a predictable schedule can help keep some of your emotions in check. It allows you to keep functioning in the real world during the grief process. This mindset can help promote the healing process. It can also ensure that you're protecting your recovery.
Share Your Feelings
While grieving, your feelings may not make perfect sense. You may alternate between experiencing intense bouts of anger, sadness, shock, and relief. You might also feel guilty or responsible for the loss.
These feelings are normal. It's important to share them with safe and trusted people. Don't bottle them up and pretend they don't exist. Emotional suppression doesn't work- it tends to exacerbate uncomfortable feelings and increase your desire to engage in impulsive behavior.
If you're not sure how to share your feelings with another person, start by journaling. Write down your feelings they arise. You can even practice reading them aloud before discussing them with someone else.
Recognize Your Triggers
Grief can feel vulnerable and unsettling, and many people experience heightened cravings during this time. Anticipate that this may happen, and be prepared for them.
Some common grief triggers include:
trying to avoid feeling sad or angry.
losing someone to a drug-related death like an overdose.
feeling responsible for the loss, whether directly or indirectly.
isolating after the loss.
acting as if the loss didn't happen.
becoming overly busy.
disregarding or neglecting your usual recovery routine.
With that in mind, triggers themselves aren't inherently bad. They are a typical part of the recovery process. If you're new in recovery, the triggers might be more intense and prevalent. Your mind and body are still adjusting to this new sober life.
It's important to recognize that triggering thoughts can quickly lead to negative behaviors. Pay attention to the thoughts that you have. Don't dismiss their validity. Don't pretend like they're random or insignificant.
The spiral can happen suddenly, and it's important to anticipate how you will respond if this happens.
Practice More Self-Care
Self-care refers to any deliberate action of self-compassion. Self-care means honoring your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Grief can make us feel depleted and alone. That's why it's important that you take care of yourself.
Aim to implement more self-care in your day. You can start by adding ten minutes a day. In those ten minutes, do something that rejuvenates you. Listen to your favorite music. Take a brisk walk. Call a supportive friend. Keep building on this time as you can. The more you demonstrate self-love, the more you open the space for healthy healing.
Self-care also means asking for help. Many times, loved ones will say, let me know if there's anything I can do to support you. Take advantage of their kindness. If you need them to check in on you, ask! If you're struggling to get to the store, ask if they can drop off groceries.
People like having clear directions and tasks. By giving them specific guidance, you're honoring your needs and making it easier for them to support you.
Consider Professional Support For Managing Grief In Recovery
It's important to reach out to friends and family if you're struggling with grief in recovery. But you may also benefit from professional support.
Individual therapy allows you to process your emotions and learn coping strategies to manage your emotions. Bereavement groups provide safe, nonjudgmental spaces to share your feelings with other people who understand your pain.
It's important to stay connected. Isolation can impact your self-esteem and health. It can also jeopardize your recovery, and that can result in even more problems.
At The Resurface Group, we are here to support our clients through good times and challenging times. We know grief is an unavoidable part of life, and we work to offer comprehensive treatment for coping with loss. Contact us today to learn more.