Alcohol-related bereavement can cause you to experience a whole range of emotions. For some people, you may have had a bit of warning, however for others, death may be a sudden realisation to deal with.
The Five Stages of Grief
Denial: Denial helps us to pace our feelings of grief. Numbs us is you will. As you accept reality and start to ask questions, you are starting the healing process.
Anger: The more you feel anger, although it may feel endless, the more you heal. This is not limited to friends and family. This can go way beyond.
Bargaining: Even after death we will bargain for this persons life and play over the event. We want to go back in time to take action and stop the death from happening.
Depression: Empty feelings start to present themselves and we can become depressed.
Acceptance: This is purely accepting the reality that a loved one is gone and that this is a permanent reality.
What makes bereavement through drugs and alcohol different?
Every bereavement can be difficult and painful. But when someone we care for dies as a result of drug or alcohol use there are some common factors that can make it even harder.
Shame and stigma: Those of us who have lost a loved one to drugs or alcohol often feel that society is judging us, leading to a sense of shame and disgrace. People may assume that an addict had a choice, or that their addiction and death were their own fault. Many people will be understanding, but not knowing who is thinking like this can lead to us avoiding others and feeling isolated.
Traumatic circumstances: When someone dies through drugs or alcohol it can be in traumatic circumstances. The police and other officials are often involved. There may be an inquest and a post-mortem which are stressful and delay funerals and memorials. We may have questions about how and why a loved one died which are never fully answered. Sometimes there is media interest which can be distressing and intrusive.
Experiences before the death: Many people bereaved through alcohol or drugs have been living with an addiction in the family, sometimes for many years. When someone close is experiencing addiction it can make life very difficult: emotionally, practically and financially. Issues you faced beforehand can often carry over into bereavement.
Suddenness and shock: Whether or not the death was expected or feared it can still feel like a devastating shock when it happens. Some people do not know beforehand that their loved one was using drugs or drinking too much and some loved ones may have only recently begun experimenting.
Intensity of emotion: It can be very difficult to make sense of a death when it feels like it happened at the wrong time, and in the wrong way. Because of this, and the other factors which make bereavement through drugs and alcohol so difficult, we know it can be very, very painful. It can take a long time to work through and process this pain.
You can find out more about bereavement through drugs and alcohol here