How to Cope With Grief Defining Grief Grief is a natural response to loss. It is the process of healing and coming to terms with what has been lost. Grief can occur after the death of a loved one; the end of a significant relationship; a change in job status; the loss of one’s home due to a natural disaster; or any other event that causes stress and loss. Grief can be triggered by many events and conditions, including the death of a loved one, divorce, abuse, trauma, financial hardship, and the end of a significant relationship. Grief can also occur as a result of changes in one’s life, including the birth of a child, moving, changing jobs, retirement, or the loss of health. Is Grief an Addiction Trigger? Yes. Grief is often experienced as part of the natural process following the loss of a loved one, or a life-changing event, such as the end of a significant relationship. Addiction thrives on stress, resentment, and unresolved emotions. Unresolved grief can lead to resentment, bitterness, and self-recrimination. Resentment and bitterness can then lead to addictive behavior as a means of self-medicating and self-soothing. Grief can be a trigger for addictive behavior, such as self-harm, eating disorders, sex addictions, over-spending, and substance abuse. Grief can also lead to depression and anxiety, which can also trigger an addictive response. 6 Tips to Help You Cope With Grief in Recovery - Connect with others. One of the best things you can do when grieving is to connect with others who have had similar experiences. Talking about your feelings with others who have also experienced a loss can be incredibly healing and help you to progress through the grieving process. Connecting with other people who have been through similar experiences can also help you to see that you are not alone. - Receive professional support. If you feel that your grief is becoming overwhelming, or if you have been experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety, you may want to consider seeing a therapist. Talking to a professional can help you process your feelings and work through your grief in a healthy way. - Stay healthy. Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, getting enough exercise, and sleeping enough are all important parts of self-care when grieving. Taking care of yourself physically will help you to better cope with the stress of grieving and may even help you to process your feelings more quickly than if you were neglecting your physical health. - Take care of your mental health. While grieving, it’s important to make sure that you are taking care of your mental health as well as your physical health. Taking care of your mental health includes avoiding activities and thoughts that may make you feel worse, such as using drugs or alcohol. - Take care of your spiritual health. Grieving can be an opportunity to strengthen your spiritual health. Some people choose to engage in spiritual practices while they are grieving, while others may take time away from spiritual practices to process their feelings. Grieving can be a challenging time, but it can also be an opportunity to grow spiritually. Create a Trigger Plan You can better cope with grief by creating a trigger plan. A trigger plan is a list of people, places, activities, and thoughts that can trigger addictive behavior. It can help you to identify the warning signs of addictive behavior and gives you the tools to prevent triggering yourself into negative behaviors. Here are some examples of things you might include in your trigger plan: - What situations make you feel most vulnerable? When are you most likely to engage in addictive behavior? When are you most likely to call an old friend and invite them out to drink? Make a list of your warning signs and potential triggers. - Who are the people in your life who are likely to make you feel comfortable when you are struggling? Who can you call when you are triggered? Having people in your life who know about your triggers and are willing to help you to avoid them is a great way to prevent yourself from falling back into negative behaviors.
Accept Your Feelings Grief is a natural part of life and is not something that must be avoided at all costs. While grief can be painful, it is important that you do not try to avoid or deny your feelings. Avoiding your feelings can cause you to become resentful and can delay your ability to move forward in life. When you are grieving, it is important that you accept and acknowledge your feelings. It is common to feel a wide array of emotions, such as sadness, anger, shame, guilt, and fear. Do not try to avoid your feelings or push them away. Grieving is a process and can take time. It is important that you allow yourself to feel your feelings, even if they are difficult or uncomfortable. Focus on Self-Care While you are grieving, it is important that you continue to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually. Part of taking care of yourself physically is eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly. It is also important to take care of your mental health and avoid activities that will make you feel worse, such as using drugs or alcohol. It is important that you take care of your spiritual health while grieving. Some people choose to take time away from spiritual practices while they are grieving, while others may choose to engage in spiritual practices to help them process their feelings and move through their grief. Grieving can be a challenging time, but it can also be an opportunity to grow spiritually.
Grief is a part of life that can be experienced as a result of any type of loss, not just death. When not coped with properly, grief can greatly impact one's SUD recovery and can be a major trigger of relapse for many. We recently published an educational guide to help the public understand how to best cope with grief including information on how grief can trigger addiction, tips to cope with grief, and some helpful resources.
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