Losing someone you love to substance use can be an incredibly challenging and complex experience, and healing from such a loss is a deeply personal and individual process. While the pain of losing a loved one may always be present to some extent, it is possible to find ways to heal and navigate life in a meaningful and fulfilling way. Here are a few points to consider:
Healing is a journey
Healing from the loss of a loved one to substance use is not a linear process, and it does not have a fixed endpoint. It’s important to acknowledge that healing is a journey that unfolds over time, and it may involve ups and downs, as well as different stages of grief.
Creating a new normal
Healing does not mean forgetting or moving on from the loss. Instead, it involves finding ways to integrate the loss into your life and create a new sense of normalcy. This may involve adapting to a changed identity, redefining relationships, and finding meaning and purpose in life after loss.
Honoring and remembering
Healing involves finding ways to honor and remember your loved one while also acknowledging your own needs for healing and growth. This may include creating rituals, engaging in remembrance activities, or finding ways to keep their memory alive through storytelling or advocacy work.
Healing is often facilitated by seeking support from others who understand your unique experience. This can involve joining support groups, connecting with others who have experienced similar losses, or seeking guidance from therapists or grief counselors who specialize in addiction-related grief.
Self-care and self-compassion
Prioritizing self-care and self-compassion is essential in the healing process. This includes taking care of your physical and emotional well-being, setting boundaries, engaging in activities that bring you joy, and being patient and kind to yourself as you navigate the grief journey.
Finding meaning and growth
While the loss of a loved one to substance use can be devastating, it can also be an opportunity for personal growth and finding new meaning in life. Many individuals find solace in advocating for addiction awareness, supporting others in their recovery, or channeling their grief into creative or meaningful pursuits.
It’s important to remember that the healing process is unique to each individual, and there is no timeline or set outcome. Give yourself permission to grieve, seek support when needed, and be gentle with yourself as you navigate the complex emotions that come with this type of loss. Healing doesn’t mean forgetting or erasing the pain, but rather finding ways to integrate the loss into your life and move forward with a renewed sense of purpose and meaning.
Seeking support from trusted friends, family, support groups, or grief counselors can be beneficial during this challenging time. WakeUp Carolina has a new substance use disorder grief support group, “ Living With Loss,” on Tuesdays at 6:00 pm with trauma counselor Abby Foster, LISW-CP, MAC, for people grieving from losing a loved one to addiction, substance use, or a substance-related death.