10 Ways to Cope with the Loss of a Loved One

By Jennifer McDougall


Accepting the loss of someone you loved and cared for, no matter the time or relationship, it can be extremely difficult. Leaning on loved ones and avoiding the urge to isolate into your own personal shell is important.  When someone you love passes on, there is a numbing pain that is usually felt within our core. We want to run from pain too often when it arrives. When challenges or circumstances present themselves, it is best not to run or try and hide from the emotion or event that is or has recently taken place. By running, I am also talking about resorting to substances for temporary relief. You must know that drugs and alcohol won’t bring your loved one back and attempting to drown your pain with addictive substances can not only be fatal but can also make matters much worse.

Recently, a friend of mine passed away from an on-going battle with addiction. Heroin was his coping mechanism. Heroin is also what took him from this world. He himself was looking for an escape. For years, he was in discomfort with himself; in pain for many of the pieces in his life never added up to a fulfilling measure (his own personal belief). The truth is, he was a bright young man with a great sense of humor. He was loved by many people, but sometimes (for reasons we don’t always understand) that’s not enough.

There are underlying reasons for why a person does what they do. Behind every person’s addiction, behind every reason to escape the consciousness we know and feel complete when sober, is an underlying reason driving the force of every thought and action.

When someone feels pain, they typically want to run away from it. The trouble is that pain is meant to be felt. It is a natural sensation that can benefit us in many ways. If you avoid the feelings of sadness and loss, you prologue the grieving process in which delays the natural cycle of healing. It is important that you feel everything during this process. If you don’t, it can lead to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, anger, insomnia, job loss, relationship trouble, financial difficulties, unresolved guilt, and many other things you are much better off without.

Symptoms of Grief:

  • Shock and Disbelief– There’s a feeling of numbness that usually hits when the news is broken to loved ones of a sudden passing. The disbelief and denial of the truth are common. Only by accepting the truth and handling the news in the most conscious and collective manner possible will we be better off.
  • Sadness – Despair, loneliness, a sense of emptiness and absence are common symptoms to feel during the grieving process. Crying is not a sin, so if you feel sad to let it out. Feel what you feel.
  • Guilt – You may feel guilty for things you said or did to this person who has passed away. Even if the death was out of your control, you still might blame yourself for reasons you should only stop and learn to forgive now that the person has passed on.
  • Anger – You may be mad at yourself, God, the situation itself, the drug that caused the death, the driver behind the wheel, or the medical team who couldn’t save them. You could be mad due to feeling abandoned. That’s okay, but don’t stay mad for too long. Forgiveness goes a long way.
  • Fear – Loss can trigger feelings of worry, a loss of hope, and create insecurities.
  • Physical Symptoms (Nausea, fatigue, weight loss or weight gain, insomnia, body aches)

How to Cope with Loss:

  1. Seek support in others rather than grieving alone (join a support group, talk to a therapist, turn to family and friends)
  2. Take care of yourself (Be real with how YOU feel, express your emotions in a creative way, workout, shower daily, stay hydrated and eat nutritious meals)
  3. Do your best to be POSITIVE
  4. Engage in activities with others
  5. Avoid drugs and alcohol – treat yourself to a sweet dessert or a sweaty workout instead (total opposites, I know)
  6. Daily meditation for healing benefits and mental stability
  7. Make plans for the future to give you and others suffering something to look forward to
  8. Get out of the house at least once a day and be around other people
  9. Accept that the feelings of guilt, regret, pain, and suffering will soon pass
  10. Be patient through the grieving and healing process – take your time and allow yourself to go through every motion as you best feel fitting for yourself


Call Passages Addiction Treatment Centers today if you or a loved one is battling an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. Our admissions department is available 24/7 and can be reached directly by calling our toll-free number at (888) 397-0112. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

Passages, Where Addiction Ends and Life Begins™

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