The suicide of someone you love can be an incredibly difficult experience. The sudden loss of their life can even be traumatic. And if you’re struggling with your sobriety, or even if your sober living experience has been stable, the suicide of someone you love might threaten your sobriety.
Perhaps your friend or family member was gay or was diagnosed with a psychotic illness, depressed, or suffering from a terminal illness. All of these have been reasons behind taking one’s own life. Whatever the reason, now that you’ve survived his or her suicide, you might be struggling with how to stay sober and cope with the intense feelings of loss.
Sober living isn’t easy when there are major roadblocks in the way. It’s easier with a regular routine, the support of an Alcoholics Anonymous community, residing at a sober living home, and knowing precisely what your triggers are enough to avoid them. However, now that you’re faced with a trauma, what can you do to support yourself?
Here are some important things to remember as you move through this process of grieving. They can support your sober living even during this difficult time.
- Know that you can make it through this. You can stay sober even through this challenge. Your resolve in this belief will help prevent relapses.
- The intense feelings of grief are normal. Many people, whether they are recovering addicts or now, will experience the range of feelings that come up in response to loss.
- You might also have thoughts of suicide during this time of grief. Even so, it doesn’t mean that you have to act on those feelings. It doesn’t mean that you’re also going to take your life. Instead, you can get the help you need in order to tend to your feelings, your sobriety, and your mental health.
- It’s perfectly okay to continue to ask yourself and others, “Why?” You may need to ask this question again and again throughout your grieving process. In fact, asking this question might support your sober living and prevent relapses. It might be a necessary part of your grieving process.
- Healing is going to take time. Give yourself the space and length of time you need to heal. When it gets challenging, know that you’re moving through a process.
- Grief doesn’t have a formula. Your experience of grief is not going to be the same as others’. You have every right to whatever you need to support your sober living and your grieving process.
- Now is not the time to make any major decisions. Let yourself grieve and tend to your sobriety.
- Seek out people who are willing to listen to your pain, stories, questions, and feelings. Seek out those who are willing to listen and who respect and understand your need to express your feelings. To do this, you may talk to your sponsor, a family member, a mutual friend to the deceased, or a mental health professional.
- Grieving is going to twist and turn. It’s not a linear process. You might feel like you’re doing better and then take a few steps back. This is normal and even those setbacks are a part of your process in healing.
- Recognize that there are some friends and family that might avoid you because they don’t know how to respond to something as intense as suicide. They won’t know what to say or how to respond to your grieving. Instead, they might choose to stay away from the circumstance altogether by not spending time with you. Although this might feel hurtful or uncomfortable, try not to take it personally.
- Just like you sought sober living support, you can also seek support for the loss of a loved one due to suicide. Many communities have suicide survivor grief support groups that can facilitate the healing process.
The list above might be useful in your quest to heal, stay sober, and maintain your own mental health. All your thoughts, feelings, and needs are valuable during this time. It’s important to give yourself whatever you need to heal.
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