When a Loved One Dies

In recovery we stay sober no matter what. Losing a loved is heart-wrenching, devastating, overwhelming and seemingly unbearable. Every minute of everyday people lose a loved one, whether a family member, a spouse, child or friend. Knowing this doesn’t make us feel any better. Nor does the person who goes on and on about themselves and when they lost their loved one. 

When a loved one dies our emotions and feelings ironically duplicate the first year of our sobriety. Every minute is agonizing, hours and days may feel like years. We have to get through each holiday without our loved one. We have to get through their birthday. They are not going to be on the other end of the telephone when we have great news.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote many books about death before she died in 2004. Her most famous book, On Death and Dying, names the five phases of grief we go through when we lose a loved one. They are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

There is no straight line or order to the five stages of grief. The stages can become muddled and go haywire. We can be angry one moment and depressed another. Picture a young child’s crayon drawing with lines going every which way. Certain areas are blackened by numerous lines. It may help us to out the child’s drawing in context with what our grief can feel like.

Whether we go to bed at 5 pm or stay up all night, we keep feeling our loss. We can give ourselves permission to talk about our loved one even though society inculcates us to buck up and quickly move on. If we try to hurry our grief along we may become stuck in depression, because we haven’t given it room to live and breathe within us.

While we will never forget our loved one and how much we miss them, we may feel the intensity lessen after time. However, the decrease will differ from person to person. An elderly person who has lost a spouse can have an especially difficult time.Their entire world may have revolved around caretaking towards the end of their spouse’s life.

Many people find comfort in talking to their loved one. Spiritual leaders profess to life after death, and reincarnation. Whatever our beliefs, we deserve comfort. Being kind to ourselves when we lose a loved one can help.

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