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The Grieving Process: A Matter Of Life And Death

You don’t “get over” the death of a loved one, and you don’t “get over” addiction. But in both cases, understand there exists tangible hope.

August 5, 2019
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We are all human beings. We are a melting pot of characteristics. Is it nature, and therefore objectively pre-determined and out of our control? Is it nurture and thus the result of the subjective environment in which we are raised? We possess different ethnicities, opportunities, abilities, desires, physical traits, preferences, beliefs, choices, and tastes. Sometimes those variables cause conflicts and division; sometimes those variables produce symmetry and unity. But we are all human beings, and one aspect we share in common is that we all grieve.

When we consider the grieving process, we tend to think of a physical death, and obviously, that is one clear example. But grief isn’t just about death. The fact is, grief is about life. And not only the loss of a loved one…it reaches far beyond that, so let’s explore the topic on a wider scope.

But first, while there have evolved many credible variations and schools of thought, let’s be reminded of the core stages of the grieving process, also known as DABDA: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.

DENIAL

It cannot be happening. It just is not true. There must be some mistake. The information is incorrect. There is skepticism. It is a misunderstanding. This must be some kind of joke. There may even be an outright refusal to believe in what is in fact…fact.

ANGER

Why is this happening? Who is to be held responsible? What did I do to deserve this? This is unacceptable and someone is going to pay the price.

BARGAINING

I will do better. I will be better. Can’t we work this out? I’ll give up something. Let’s go back in time. We can fix this.

DEPRESSION

How do I go on? I cannot deal with this. I am emotionally overwhelmed. I am physically spent. How do I function? I cannot move forward. How do I get out of this rut? I have no purpose.

ACCEPTANCE

I cannot unring that bell. Life will go on. I can do this. It is not the end of the world. This is only a setback. I will survive. There is hope.

Just as we all possess the distinctive characteristics mentioned earlier, we also have diverse ways in which we cope. Life is a series, with many volumes, books, chapters, and pages. And through decades, years, months, weeks, days, and even minutes, we are faced with losses that will trigger our own processes of mourning those losses. Sometimes the process is brief and relatively simple. Other times it is lengthy and agonizing.

Think about when you went through a relationship breakup, whether it was a romantic one, a friendship, or even the loss of a job. Of course, the grieving process for each of those likely will be very different than the grieving process after the death of a loved one, but the fundamental stages still exist: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance

Think about when you tried out for but didn’t make the team, when you were not chosen for a promotion, or when you found out your child had lied to you. These are all losses that spark anguish, and subsequently, a coping process.

To someone who is dealing with addiction disorder, the path to sobriety is a grieving process. It means giving up something one loved…the substance. It means giving up “close” relationships…the fellow users. It means giving up a sense of control…the vulnerability to confront the causes of the addictive behavior.  And it isn’t easy, but it isn’t impossible, either.

As with any loss, the stages of grief are not always linear, meaning:

  1. They don’t necessarily happen in the same order every time.
  2. They aren’t necessarily experienced just once during the cycle.
  3. They aren’t necessarily consistent from one individual to another.

You don’t “get over” the death of a loved one, and you don’t “get over” addiction. But in both cases, understand there exists tangible hope. There exists achievable goals. Those goals include learning to cope in a healthy manner. Those goals include learning to manage loss in an effective way. Those goals include learning how to take steps ahead, one step at a time, and ultimately achieve true acceptance.

If you or someone you love is trying to break the cycle of addiction and need help to cope with the process, don’t wait. Contact Wavelengths Recovery now and see how we will walk beside you on the journey to acceptance and sobriety: 844-392-8342

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Warren Boyd
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