The Pain of Loss During Recovery


Entering recovery is a huge step on the path to creating a better life for yourself. Choosing a 12-step program is a treatment option that focuses on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual recovery. While growing yourself during this program some uncontrollable outside forces can make this path a bit more windy than usual. Grieving the loss of a family member, friend, or pet can cause the steps you take during recovery to go backwards instead forwards. While grieving is a natural part of loss, it can affect you and your treatment. Although there is never an “ideal time” for grieving to happen, going through a difficult time while being in a 12-step program can be highly beneficial.

Allow Yourself to Feel Sad

The pain of loss you’re dealing with is nothing to brush aside. It’s real, it hurts, and the wound is deep. Take time to feel sad. Covering up the pain you’re feeling deep down can only suppress what you’re really feeling. It’s going to hurt, and you’re going to feel sad, but this is the lowest of low points. Take this time to allow yourself to grieve or cry. While nobody wants to ever feel this kind of loss, channeling your emotions without suppression is a healthy part of the grieving process.

Reach Out For Help

Everyone deals with loss in their own way. Some individuals might seclude themselves, while others will lose their sense of appetite. Depending on how you grieve this process could be more or less severe than some. In this situation reach out for help instead of secluding yourself. Going through loss while in a 12-step program is the ideal time to talk about your loss. You are surrounded by those who are care and will support you.

The burden you feel from the loss can be lifted if you talk about it to those you are close with. Remember, nobody can tell you, “it was for the best” or “you can get another pet.” This does not help heal loss, if it is something that can be healed. In these instances look for a caring friend, counselor, or therapist who you can talk with. Get out what is on your heart, and get out how you are feeling without feeling judged by the person sitting across from you.

Keep a Routine

Humans are routine oriented beings. When dealing with loss this could disrupt our usual pattern of behavior de-railing the routine. While it’s hard to pick up your routine right after loss, try implementing what you can. If you usually wake up at a certain time, or eat specific foods, stick to parts of your routine you can handle. Try implementing one part of your routine per day. Before you know it within a couple days, or weeks, you can get back to your normal routine.

Seek Professional Help

In some cases, extra help might be needed. Grief usually follows a pattern, but there isn’t a grief timeline of when you should start feeling better. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please contact a medical professional.

  • Intense longing and yearning for your deceased loved one
  • Intrusive thoughts or images of your loved one
  • Denial of the death or sense of disbelief
  • Imagining that your loved one is alive
  • Searching for your deceased loved one in familiar places
  • Avoiding things that remind you of your loved one
  • Extreme anger or bitterness over your loss
  • Feeling that life is empty or meaningless

These symptoms can be underlying indicators of complicated grief. This is a type of grief outside of the scope of the grieving process. Some of these symptoms can also lead to clinical depression. Seeking help from a medical professional can help with these symptoms.

Going through loss of a family member, friend, or pet is a difficult time for everyone. It’s important to remember that everyone grieves differently. Allowing yourself to feel sadness, reaching out for help, and keeping up with a routine are all things to help you through this process. And if you feel as if going through a 12-step program adds additional stress to your grieving process, remember that people in your program are there to offer help and support. Losing someone, or a pet, is incredibly emotional, and the fact you are surrounded by those who are offering support is huge helping factor.