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1 February 2022
It’s common for us to go through a wide range of emotions, from anger and denial to sadness and despair. (See previous blog on stages of grief)
We all go through the grieving process differently, and we may not always do it in the healthiest manner.
Many like me, turned to alcohol in an attempt to numb the sadness, pain, and grief that follows a heartbreaking loss.
Sadly, self-medicating all that emotional pain can often lead to alcohol dependency. With grief’s impact on mental health taking a serious toll — even for the seemingly strongest and most resilient individuals, the ones like me who were appearing to be brave, but crumbling underneath!
We should feel all the feels! Otherwise the emotional energy will become blocked. Resulting in a person becoming like a pressure cooker about to burst!If we allow grief to be unresolved we can become overwhelmed with daily life. Without even realizing the underpinning reason of our sadness and grief!
As previously discussed grief can make us more inclined to the development of a substance abuse problem. However instead of reaching for a glass of wine for short term escapism, long term lifestyle changes can be made to allow yourself to sit with the grief rather than run away from it!
Long term solutions are much more effective than short term numbing!
In the series Afterlife, it is very well documented how the main character played by Ricky Gervais is leaning on alcohol to get him through the loss of his wife. However it is not highlighting the hangovers or it’s effect on his mental health or his ability to grieve and release!
For Tony (played by Gervais) alcohol is used as a tool to look through old videos as part of his bedtime ritual with his dog!
Although this is beyond cute and heart wrenching, and alcohol may help you sleep at night, you will not have the same quality of sleep.
Although I absolutely love Afterlife and would recommend it to anyone who is grieving (I recently watched it with my husband and we both laughed and cried) I think the way Tony uses alcohol is problematic and dependent and probably one of the reasons he feels so aggressive at times!
Just like Ricky Gervais’s character when a person is unable to work through feelings of loss in a healthy way, they may decide to self-medicate with alcohol. Drinking may numb the pain temporarily, but the effect is always short-lived.
I know from experience there is no form of self-medicating with substances that will effectively erase the pain of loss. The only way out is through. To sit in the pain to release it, and wow that pain can be beautiful! Remember that pain comes from love, so the love from the pain will be returned to you. It returns to give you strength!
In my Recovering Your true self Ebook I speak in-depth about how alcohol acts as a depressant in the body, intensifying negative emotions, like shame or sadness. Therefore sitting with the pain, alcohol fueled will definitely not feel beautiful because alcohol is an inhibitor to Love
Alcohol has the power to impair every part of daily life. From the quality of relationships to the ability to reach your dream career, to keeping you stuck in a constant pain of grief!
In my experience bereavement is not linear instead it is like a roller coaster.
It takes multiple forms at different times in one’s life. Sometimes it is not you who is in the centre of the grief but your partner. I am supporting my husband now who has recently lost his mum! I have to find space for my grief, while giving him support and space to facilitate his grief! And moments like watching afterlife allowed us to grieve together without needing alcohol just each other……so a supportive friend or partner is literally a godsend in grief
I am finding it hard to watch Michael in his grief . Other then give him space to grieve and love to support him, he has to journey on his own path (although I am never far behind him). I am thankful that this path does not involve alcohol, his mum hated alcohol so she will be very happy too!
I don’t think bereavement ever really ends. It ebbs after a while, but can then emerge like a great wave on birthdays and anniversaries, in certain places, or triggered by something like a special song! This is why, it is so important to use a long term solution rather than a short term numbing!
Here are a couple of recommendations from me to create long term solutions to Grief.