Bereavement in Recovery

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[bih- reev-m uhnt]

a period of mourning after a loss, especially after the death of a loved one: The widow had many visitors during her bereavement.
a state of intense grief, as after the loss of a loved one; desolation.
deprivation or loss by force (usually fol. by of): The hurricane left a trail of bereavement of ordinary people.

Hi it's Dermot again. If you read my last blog from 4th April, you will know that this is a follow up to that blog and part of a "Recovery from Addiction Series", If not read on:


You could ask, what the hell does bereavement or grief have to do with recovery? Surely if you are free from active addiction, you'd want to celebrate, not grieve.

It's a good question, but when you have been doing something for a long period of time, like addictive drinking, drugging or gambling, then it becomes an engrained habit, a part of the whole. It became your comfort zone, even your friend. So when you suddenly stop the above behaviour, of course you are going to miss it, even if the latter part of your addictive life was hell. 

The attachment was so intense, some members in AA have said that "giving up drink was like losing a limb". We are not talking about physical withdrawal or cravings here, we are talking about psychological and emotional detachment - grief.

The jury is out as just to how many different stages of grief or bereavement there are, some say 4, some 5 and some 7. You can research that on your own. I will go with Nicole Arzt's 5 stages, see link at bottom of the page:

Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression & Acceptance. As you can see they go from initial resistance through the stages to eventual acceptance. There is almost a flow in it. Like any form of bereavement, the human mind does go into a state of shock or disbelief and finds it hard to come to terms with sudden change or loss. We are however very adaptable beings and do eventually come to terms with our current situation. But you do need help here.

If you are struggling with bereavement in addiction, my advice is not to be alone, to just go along with it, don't resist it, as it does get easier and once it passes, it won't come back. I'm 15 years sober now and have never looked back. In my early days though I did access all the support & help I could get. It was a very confusing time as my emotions were literally all over the place, and it was with the help of others in AA, that helped me make sense of it all.

My next article is on Character Defects, stay tuned.

The articles in "Recovery from Addiction" Series, are the opinion of the author and if you would like to contribute to it, please leave a comment in the comment box below. If you want to subscribe, for free, to any further blogs of mine please leave your email in the blue box below. 

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