Reflections on Grief: Where Do We Begin?
By Kerry J. Bickford, Newsletter Editor
“The ABC’s and 123’s of Grief in Sobriety,” by Tami Winn, offers a frank, no-frills explanation of what the actual experience of loss looks like on a daily basis: no rose-colored glasses here. As someone who is actively riding the grief wave (having lost my son 19 months ago to an overdose), I would say that much of it resonated with me. Grief is a solitary journey, and there is simply no easy passage.
Something struck me deeply while reading the section “You Will Feel Very Alone.” The loneliness cannot be underestimated. We all have different ways of coping and reaching out to alleviate the relentless, intrusive pain we sometimes feel. Coupled with recovery, it can seem even more isolating. While I cannot speak as someone in recovery, my loved one’s addiction journey was a painful and lonely one to witness — painful to me as someone who desperately wanted to help, and lonely to him as someone who struggled every day.
The author, in recovery herself, shares The Grief Recovery Handbook with her “sponsees” because it offers readings and reflections that she believes can provide a temporary antidote to the alone-ness. Reading is something that often helps validate a feeling I am having, while, at the same time, soothing my heartache and connecting me to the realization that someone else has felt this way too. It also keeps me close to my son and gives me a spiritual connection to the physical presence I am missing so deeply.
The section “There Are Many Types of Grief” is a poignant reminder that, while I may be grieving the loss of my son, you may — like the author of “ABC’s” — be grieving the loss of friends you were close to when you were using. She reminds us that loss is as spiritual as it is physical. We deal with losses every day and rarely take the time to really process the toll on our soul.
While articles like this one bring the conversation into the light of day, we are a long way from being able to adequately support those who are on this journey. We need to talk more, share more, care more, and widen the network of support for the grief-stricken. In doing this, we are not only helping each other, we are helping ourselves and blazing a trail for a more compassionate society.