Content Reviewed by Christian Losch, LCSW, LCADC, CEO of Pinelands
Grief is not easy to deal with, no matter who you are or what you have been through in life. It also, unfortunately, occurs in several phases that include many complex emotions. Because of the cyclical nature of grief, learning to work through it can be a tricky process.
If you are in the midst of addiction recovery, you may find processing grief to be incredibly daunting. However, there are ways to begin beneficially navigating this journey.
There are many reasons why dealing with grief is so difficult.
By itself, grief is incredibly complicated to work through. Although, the more you understand grief, the more you can begin to work through its complications.
There are five stages of grief that you will experience along your journey:
- In this beginning stage of grief, you may deny the facts regarding your life situation or circumstances. This is an entirely normal stage of the process and serves as an initial defense mechanism used to protect yourself from the significant changes that have occurred.
- During this next stage, you may experience varying degrees of bitterness. You may feel angry at others involved in the traumatizing situations, or you may even find yourself mad at yourself. It is also common to take your anger out on others around you who are not involved in the situation causing you this emotion. If left untreated, this anger can manifest into something that may cause harm to others in some way.
- Following anger, you may find yourself in the bargaining stage of grief. Bargaining can manifest itself in many unique ways, depending on the situation. For example, after a break-up or divorce, you may find yourself bargaining by remaining friends with the individual to reduce the grief. If someone you love has passed away, you may bargain by hoping that the universe or a higher power will bring you back what you lost. All are ways of processing your new reality while attempting to gain a sense of control over your life.
- The depression stage of grief also entails more acceptance of your situation. No longer escaping from the painful reality, you may experience prolonged sadness, fatigue, and a lack of interest. Although temporary, this stage may become significantly isolating due to the feelings you are experiencing. It is important to have supporters checking in on you and ensuring your safety and well-being.
- This stage may differ slightly from person to person, but overall, it means you have fully accepted your situation more objectively. This does not mean that you will no longer experience sadness or other emotions, but it does mean that you have reached a point where you no longer attempt to change your reality. Essentially, you can navigate your new reality without being controlled by your emotions.
While this is the typical order of the stages of grief, it is possible to go through many different stages at various times. This process can be more sporadic than orderly, especially while in recovery.
It is possible to move forward while maintaining your sobriety.
Attempting to juggle the demands of both addiction recovery and grief can be particularly overwhelming. While trying to work on yourself and your goals, the added weight of grief can be incredibly disheartening. However, there are many ways to ensure your sobriety while processing through grief and all that it entails. Some specific tips and tricks include:
- Lay down and listen to music. The use of music can be incredibly therapeutic. Suppose you find yourself overwhelmed and unable to accept your current situation. In that case, it can be beneficial to give yourself a safe space to begin processing your emotions in a less daunting way. Pick some songs that you love, no matter what the genre. Begin with some songs that you have just been longing to listen to. Allow your feelings and desires to influence your song choice. Eventually, choose pieces that you enjoy and know will make your experience more profound, even if it contains sad emotions. By using your favorite songs to help acknowledge your feelings, you are also provided with comfort and familiarity.
- Visit a local nature site. No matter where you are or what climate you live in, visiting nature parks or areas can be a great way to navigate these difficulties. Being surrounded by nature can help ground you in the present moment by forcing you to listen to the sounds of birds, the sights of the trees, or the smells of the ocean. It can help remind you that there are still beautiful, life-giving things in the world despite your current unfortunate circumstance. The peacefulness of nature can also potentially give you a safe space to feel some of your troubling emotions.
- Seek a trained professional. As mentioned previously, dealing with grief is incredibly complicated, especially in addiction recovery. You may need extra assistance from trained professionals who can teach you and support you along the way. This is very common and is encouraged for all.
If you are dealing with grief while in addiction recovery, know that it is okay to be struggling. The five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) can be unpleasant enough on their own. However, you can manage this process by lying down and listening to music, visiting a local nature site, and seeking help from trained professionals. In the case that you may need extra support, those of us as Pinelands Recovery of Medford are here to help you in whatever way you may need. We understand the complicated dynamics of grief and want to assist you on your journey by giving you the necessary tools, knowledge, and care. Located in the woods of Medford, New Jersey, we want to ensure your sobriety while also giving you a safe, peaceful environment to move through the stages of grief in a beneficial way. Contact us today at (877) 557-5372.