Safe Harbor

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Dealing with Grief and Loss Within the Recovery Community

Grief and loss are sensitive topics. They do not always involve the death of a loved one. Sometimes, these powerful emotions are caused by a change in circumstances, losing relationships and peer groups, lack of stability, or witnessing tragic events. Learning to find balance and hope while struggling with grief is easier when you have a helping hand. Luckily, there are resources available that may help you find relief and a way forward.

Tips For Dealing With Grief

It can be hard to know what to do next to keep moving forward when you experience grief. A few examples of actions you can take to help you begin to heal and cope with the emotions and thoughts that may interfere with your recovery include:

  • Find healthy ways to express powerful emotions. These can include journaling, talking to others, and more.

  • Make sure you get enough quality sleep every night. To get quality sleep, put all electronics away at least 30 minutes before bed and try to set a specific bedtime for yourself.

  • Reach out to your support system of friends, peers, and advocates. These people can offer you advice or just be a shoulder to cry on.

  • Instead of withdrawing, give back to your community. Find volunteer opportunities in your local community or recovery circle.

  • Find a meaningful way to honor what you have lost. You can create a scrapbook, dedicate an event in the memory, start a new tradition, and more.

  • Try to stay away from triggering locations or subjects when alone. If you encounter a triggering situation, ensure you reach out to support.

  • If any particular dates might lead to thoughts of relapse, make plans to spend them with someone from your support system.

  • Follow a regular treatment plan, including support groups and one-on-one therapy.

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The Stages Of Grief

There are five conventional stages of grief. They can come in any order and how long each lasts depends on the individual. Some people can skip some steps while others go through every one of them. Certain stages can also be experienced more than once during the grieving process. The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These experiences are not a set pattern, and there is no “wrong” or “right” way to grieve.

Identifying Grief

Grief can be hard to identify sometimes. You may find yourself experiencing depression or anxiety symptoms when you think about the things you lost when you chose to pursue treatment. Missing aspects of your life, including friends, relationships, even locations you used to frequent, is entirely normal. Sharing these feelings with peers within your support groups or sober community can help. The unknowns of the future can sometimes make us miss the past routines even if we know that it was harmful to us. Accepting the loss of past events, places, and people will take work and nurturing hope within your current circumstances.

It is easier for anyone who has lost a loved one to identify the loss that you feel as grief. While in recovery, emotional events can compound symptoms you may already be experiencing, such as anxiety, depression, or high-stress levels. There are multiple paths forward, and no matter where you are in your recovery journey, there are resources available to help you overcome your grief.

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How To Address Grief In Recovery

One of the most important ways to keep yourself safe and healthy when dealing with grief related to the past is to remove triggering items or avoid locations that may cause cravings. You may find yourself tempted to return to old social gathering places you miss or the desire to reach out to a friend you used to rely on before you sought out treatment. To cut down the risk of being drawn back into these dangerous situations, you can instead attend a support group meeting, reach out to a supportive loved one, or distract yourself with a healthy coping mechanism.

Addressing grief that stems from family members or friends’ loss can be more difficult and prolonged. It is vital to trust in the people around you and use all tips and tools at your disposal. Your recovery depends on your ability to keep moving forward and making progress, even in small ways.

Long-Term Recovery After Loss

Long-term sobriety is possible, and you can succeed at it with the help of a few coping tools. You can address grief during your recovery by doing the following:

  • Recognize the validity of the emotions and pain you are experiencing.

  • Talk to sponsors, peers, and other resources about any cravings or triggers.

  • Prioritize your happiness and allow yourself to enjoy hobbies and interests.

  • Take the time to understand why you feel grief and analyze it with a professional’s help.

  • Watch your stress levels and utilize breathing exercises and relaxation techniques.

For many people, grief is a part of the recovery process. It can present itself in many forms and stem from the loss of a loved one or the change that has taken place in your life. This change can even be due to your choice to become sober. You may find yourself confused about why you feel so strongly about certain things, including broken friendships or the loss of a peer group. You may not even recognize that the way you feel is related to grieving for a while. That is entirely normal. Whether you have lost someone or find yourself missing aspects of your previous life, there is support and understanding within the recovery community. Safe Harbor Treatment is here to help you find a safe path through grief. Our compassionate staff can help you find ways to cope and move through the emotions associated with loss. For more information, reach out to Safe Harbor today by calling (833) 580-1473.

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