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Grief and Alcoholism

"Grief and Alcoholism: Pain Needs To Be Validated"
copyright 2011, all rights reserved

by Toby Rice Drews
author of the "Getting Them Sober" books

1. Often, when we have loss or change, we don't want to hear that we can move on with our lives, when people suggest ways for us to do so. We want to be really heard -- validated -- about our pain. We rail against adapting to life as it is; we cry out, "but what I WANT is....." This is all very, very normal and a necessary stage. But when we're in the middle of feeling like that, it's hard to get any comfort. But, eventually, we do get to the point where we're almost at the end of that cycle...where we are getting tired of fighting reality and we're wanting some peace -- even if it means accepting some of the painful things in life. To help get to the point of peace, it sometimes helps to ask oneself, "Am I willing to give up the edges of my pain?" Sometimes, that question, asked of oneself, helps us to move more gently into acceptance of things as they are, when we know we cannot change them.

2. My sister, who was an expert in bereavement, told me that Harvard University had a study that showed that the tears from the eyes of widows had healing enzymes in them that did not appear in regular tears. It helps me to know that God is on our side and wants us to heal from our grief, and continue with life.

3. When loss leaves such a chasm, such a void, try to get replacement of those areas from others, in pieces. No one can totally replace the good you received from a person, but a piece from one and a piece from another can help heal the pain.

4. When people give unwanted advice about healing from loss, they are coming from their own history and their own fears and agenda. Try to take what you like and leave the rest, as they say in recovery circles.

5. When reading material that is meant to help, be open-minded, but sensible about what 's good for you; what may help someone else may be different for you. Trust your judgment.

6. Try to stay authentic to your needs. Sometimes, when we've lost someone, we feel less than, more vulnerable. And when family or friends who are domineering give "suggestions", they often mean "do it!" You don't have to overadapt to these "helpers" for fear of losing them, too. (Even, out of vulnerability, if you do adapt to them for awhile, know that you are doing it, and it'll be easier to stop it, in the future, when you heal more).

7. Remember there's a very, very big world out there, with lots of loving people in it who you can have good relationships with.

8. When we're newly grieving, some of us 'hunker down' and isolate. Be careful; it's often good for brief periods, but not as a pattern.

9. Same with "busy-ness". Staying busy is good; it helps us get through acute stages. But know you are doing it. Stay aware of your patterns. It'll help you get back into balance quicker.

10. Pray for courage to change what you can. (I ask God to please be kind and merciful, too).

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