Experiencing grief & loss

Experiencing loss can be an excruciating experience.  Whether it happened yesterday or a decade ago, you feel the pain. Your loss can be disorienting and can impact every area of your life. 

 

People handle their grief in all kinds of different ways.  Some people shut down, some people cannot stop crying. There are a huge range of emotional experiences related to grief and all of them are normal. 

Reasons people grieve

People grieve for all kinds of losses.  Frequently, the loss is a loved one, but not in every case.  Sometimes moving away from friends or changing careers can bring about feelings of grief.  For some, even making the decision to give up drugs and alcohol is cause to grieve.  Although there are many reasons people grieve, some common ones are listed below.

  • Death of a loved one

  • Death of a pet

  • Divorce or break-up

  • A person you care about has changed due to dementia or a traumatic brain injury

Do I need grief counseling?

People find grief counseling helpful.  The experience of grief can be complex, and many people find moving through it with additional support to be a positive experience. 

For some, their grief may be causing them to turn to alcohol and drugs or they find their use to be increasing.  In these instances, counseling can be especially helpful.  It can help you rely on other methods of support and find your strength without the reliance on substances.

Substance use during grief often provides short term relief, but for most people it tends to make things worse. 

 

Why is grieving so hard?

Grief is hard for the most obvious reason—we have lost a relationship or connection that was meaningful to us.  The pain of loss is difficult enough to manage.  At the same time, we are dealing with the loss, we must begin to live in a new reality.  Not only is this emotionally difficult, but it can bring on stressful logistical challenges as well. 

 

Your role in the family may have to change, managing household needs, finances or childcare often must be considered.  Well meaning friends, family or colleagues may place expectations on you or your grief process and these expectations may not align with you.  Grieving “differently” than others may add stress to your relationships.

Loss of a loved one due to overdose

Losing someone under any circumstance can be devastating.  However, losing someone to drug or alcohol overdose can make the grief process more complicated.  It may be difficult to resolve your own feelings around it.  You may have guilt or shame connected to the loss.  Frequently, there is less support when a loved one dies this way. 

 

People often don’t know what to say or are less willing to be supportive due to the stigma associated with drug and alcohol deaths.  This may lead to isolation and loneliness when going through the loss.

How therapy can help cope with loss

Losing someone or something you cared about often feels disorienting.  It is likely that your usual support system is also grieving if they also knew the person.  Since people grieve in different ways, it is often difficult to receive the full support you need from loved ones who are also grieving. 

 

You may not even be sure what you need.  Therapy can you help you navigate this process and provide comfort and strength.

Looking for more information and insights about grief?

4425 Mopac South Building III,Suite 600

Austin, Texas 78735

(512) 766-7955

© 2020 Substance Use Therapy