Grief And Loss Therapy

No doubt as we journey life’s road, we will encounter the pain of loss. It’s one of those things we just can’t avoid as human beings. It could be the loss of a loved one, job, finances, pet, relationship, and more. As much as we’d love to avoid losing things we love, the reality is that sometimes we just have to face loss.

As a result of experiencing loss, a range of emotions are typically felt – with grief being right there on top. Grief is a mix of emotions ranging from sadness, frustration, disappointment, rage, and more. It’s sometimes referred to as mourning.

Experts state that there are five stages of grief that people go through when they are mourning the loss of someone or something:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

While grief a natural response to loss, it can become so heavy that it may be necessary to reach out for help in coping with it.


Symptoms of Grief

You may wonder if you’re experiencing symptoms of grief. The following are some common emotions or behaviors of those experiencing grief and/or loss:

  • Crying
  • Feeling depressed
  • Feeling angry
  • Not wanting to do anything
  • Sleep problems
  • Acting like everything is alright (denial)
  • Constantly talking about the loss
  • Turning to alcohol/drugs in an attempt to feel better
  • Becoming addicted to other things like eating, shopping, working, etc.
  • Feeling confused
  • Isolating from others
  • Thinking suicidal thoughts
  • Lack of self-care
  • Blaming yourself, feeling guilty

Can Grief Lead To Addiction?

It’s not easy to feel the pain of loss. Grief is an emotion that many people say is almost unbearable at times. If you talk to professional counsellors, they’ll tell you that they see plenty of clients come in that have turned to alcohol or drugs to try to cope with grief. They say that it helps numb the pain or allows them a temporary escape from the grief.

Of course, this isn’t a healthy way of coping with grief at all. If you’re experiencing grief, you may be tempted to pick up a drink or drug to cope. However, doing so increases your chance of becoming addicted to that substance.

It’s safe to say that some physicians or therapists may prescribe medication to help someone manage intense grief. Benzodiazepines are sometimes prescribed to contend with high anxiety. However, you have to be careful because you can become addicted to them, especially if you abuse them.

Denial Of Grief Can Lead To Substance Abuse

Grief is an emotion that beckons to be felt and processed. This means that if you repress it or numb it out by drinking or drugging, the grief never really goes away. It may hide under the surface, but it’s always there – and it will likely cause you to feel depressed, angry, hopeless, etc.

Grief, like other negative emotions, needs to be healed in order to dissipate. Dealing with grief is a process and it takes time. The first step is to admit that you’re experiencing grief. Give yourself permission to feel the loss. You don’t have to stay in this stage forever, but taking time to grieve is therapeutic.

At the same time, there are healthy ways of coping with that grief in all its stages. If you use alcohol or drugs to cope, you’ll likely spiral into a deeper depression. Alcohol is a depressant, as well as some drugs. You may think you’re getting ahead of the negative feelings, but that’s not the reality.

Reaching out for professional help from a trained counsellor can certainly help you feel it and heal it. There are even specialized grief therapists who have spent years becoming experts in grief therapy.

Feeling The Emptiness Of Grief

Losing a loved one or something else that you highly valued can leave you feeling empty. It’s tempting to try to fill that void with alcohol or drugs, but they aren’t going to make you feel fulfilled. Actually, drinking or drugging to kill the pain only digs a deeper hole.

What can you do to start getting through grief and filling that emptiness? Seek a healing path that resonates with you. Some people take themselves on a self-directed healing journey, while others reach out for professional help. If addiction is an issue as well, contacting a treatment center may be quite helpful.

Deep emotional wounds don’t always go away on their own. Addiction may not go away on its own. Both take a concerted effort to become conscious of what’s going on under the emotional surface. However, getting in there and doing the inner healing work will pay off.

Remember though that it’s not a program that will “fix” you. You’re not broken at the core. In fact, you’re beautiful at the core. You’re whole at the core. But techniques, therapy, and so on will help you become more aware of the reality of such and then you can simply enjoy each moment as it comes. Happiness one moment at a time. That’s a great life!

Grief Therapy: Reach Out For Help

It can be incredibly difficult to deal with emotional trauma when you suffer loss. Mourning is normal, but sometimes you may need some help. If you’ve fallen into addiction, professional help is recommended. There are evidence-based treatments available to help you get through grief and beat addiction.

There are also inpatient or outpatient treatment centers that can address substance abuse and grief. It’s helpful to have that solid support network of addiction specialists who can also help you learn healthy grief coping skills.

Grief therapy is valuable and necessary at times. There are also support groups that focus on getting through the grieving process. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help should you need it. There are a variety of healthy ways to contend with grief and loss.

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