Anyone who works in the field of drug rehabilitation dealing with addicts and addiction or has been an addict himself, knows there are only three ways out of the trap of drug addiction. One way, and the only worthwhile way, is successful rehabilitation. Another way out, and a trap in itself, is incarceration in either jail or prison. The third and very final way out is death, either by overdose or a substance abuse related cause. And when that death occurs, there will be those left behind who must find a way to deal with the loss.
What to Expect
Each person experiences loss and grief in their own personal way, but the painful emotions, the potential regret and remorse, the desire to run time backwards, are common to all who suffer. Also common is a sense of “should have known”, wherein the person left behind feels they should have known and if they had, could have somehow done something to prevent the death. There is a sense of rejection, of rejecting the harsh reality that a person loved is now gone, especially if it is a child. There is likely not one parent alive who believes in their heart that they should outlive their child, nor would they want to if given a choice.
In the moments when a person comes-up out of the emotion of grief to experience the emotion of anger, there may be rage against and hate for a person or people considered to be responsible for the death. Those suffering the loss may experience the emotion of anger towards the loved one who is now gone, and left them behind, alone. Anger most acutely felt by parents whose child is gone as a result of substance abuse may be directed against that child for choosing the drug and its consequences over life, and over their love for their parents. Sometimes, a parent will experience the feelings of guilt, simply because they live, while their child died.
The entire gamut of human emotions may come into play, and can be a roller-coaster ride for those who have experienced the loss of a loved one to substance abuse. Even though we know that death is part of life, it does not lessen the blow. The pain of loss can be excruciating and debilitating, potentially ruining the lives of those who still live. But the human spirit is resilient and strong, and from adversity can come renewed hope and a renewed desire to live, along with a purpose to bring about beneficial change for those who still live. Let’s consider 3 ways a person can handle a loss related to addiction.
Take Care of Yourself
Although you are suffering, you still live. Life is a gift, and there are others who need you. You are a vital part of life, and have within yourself the strength to prevail, and overcome the emotional pain. To help yourself, you need to ensure you receive adequate nutrition, adequate sleep and rest, and some physical exercise. If you don’t know what diet or supplements will help you the most to stay strong and healthy in a time of extreme stress such as this, consult with a qualified nutritionist or health coach who specializes in good nutrition and maintaining health and wellbeing naturally, without drugs. In the most desperate moments of emotional pain, take a walk. As you walk, look at the things in your environment. Continue to walk and to notice the things in your environment until you feel better–it will happen, so keep going until it does.
Seek Spiritual Sustenance
There is much that happens in this world that we do not yet understand. But we can know the spiritual nature of life, ourselves and others. Belief in a higher power has sustained Man throughout his existence, and is the source of his humanity and our belief in the goodness of Man. Find needed spiritual strength in your religion or your beliefs, whatever they may be. Join with others who share your beliefs, and who have experienced a similar loss. In shared common ground with others, and in your spiritual beliefs and practices, you will find sustenance.
Help Others in Need
Probably one of the best ways to ease sorrow is to get busy helping others. There are some whose burdens and losses are far greater than our own. Live is lived by many people, and many suffer in silence, without a kind word or a helping hand. Choose whom you would most like to help, and throw yourself into it. You are a force for good in this world, and what you do to help will both change the future and the world for the better. There is no greater or longer-lasting legacy you could leave on behalf of the one you loved and lost, than to help others.