Society often stigmatizes overdose death in a way that doesn’t occur when a loss is due to natural causes. Because of this, overdose grief can be complicated by overwhelming internal experiences such as helplessness, shame, anger and isolation.
If you’ve experienced the death of a loved one to overdose, we are deeply sorry for your loss. And, while there’s no quick fix for making the pain and grief disappear, we can offer some suggestions for how to manage in a healthy way.
- Remember there is no “right” way to grieve: One person might find comfort in religious practices while another might find comfort in visiting the memorial site of the deceased or writing a letter to him or her. Allowing yourself to experience your feelings without piling on judgment can help to make the grieving process a bit more bearable.
- Learn about what to expect: Strong feelings can be scary—especially if you don’t understand what they mean or why you’re having them. Reading about the stages of grief (originally identified by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross) can help validate your experience and de-mystify some of the difficult emotions that occur. Keep in mind that these stages are a general description of what is experienced with a loss. There is no “correct” sequence or amount of time that each stage “should” last.
- Say what you need: Help others understand what is NOT helpful regarding their comments and actions. If they are unwilling to honor your requests, you have the right to limit your interaction with them and focus on healthy, positive supports.
- Join a support group: Consider resources like GRASP (Grief Recovery After Substance Abuse), Broken No More (support for those who have lost a loved one due to substance abuse) and HealGrief (general grief support).
If you’re experiencing symptomsof complicated bereavement, professional counseling at Travco Behavioral Health can help. Contact us today.