How to Process Grief in Addiction Recovery

Grief is something we all experience at some point in our lives. Some may experience this feeling more than others. Grieving during addiction recovery comes with an additional set of struggles. Grief can tend to leave us more vulnerable to temptation as a fix to ease the pain we are feeling. This being the case, it is imperative to seek help in the form of therapy and accept support from addiction recovery communities during this time.

5 Stages of Grief

Grief, as we experience it, comes in five separate stages. Each stage encompasses its own perspective, symptoms, thought patterns, and reactions. These five stages include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These stages may be experienced in no particular order and the length of time spent in each stage can vary from person to person.

#1. Denial

The denial stage is one most spend the first few days, or even weeks, experiencing after the onset of grieving. This stage involves living in a state of preferred reality as opposed to actual reality. Instead of processing what is really occurring, you may be thinking and responding as if circumstances were different. Many describe a feeling of numbness during this stage. This can sometimes serve as the body's first line of defense, allowing for a less impactful reaction to the situation.

#2. Anger

The feeling of anger and rage tend to follow the denial stage. At this point, reality has set in, and you may be feeling extremely angry at the reality of the situation. You may be wondering why this has happened to you or feel as though you have been dealt a bad hand in life. Blaming others can be a common response during this phase, as you may be desperate to assign responsibility to someone. It is important to allow yourself time to feel angry and accept these emotions. Anger opens space for coping and healing to begin.

#3. Bargaining

The next stage involves the “what if” scenario. If this one little detail had been different, would the outcome have been the same? While there may be a million different if/then scenarios, the reality does not change. During this phase, you might find yourself trying to negotiate with God or a higher power to reverse what has occurred.

#4. Depression

After throwing in all of your chips and coming to terms with the inefficacy of your negotiations, you may begin to feel empty, hopeless, or withdrawn. The symptoms commonly associated with depression creep in once you have exhausted every effort to avoid, assign blame, or change the outcome of the situation. This may leave you feeling very overwhelmed by life in general or even numb.

#5. Acceptance

The final stage of grief is acceptance. This involves re-entering reality and facing it head-on. While you are not OK with the circumstances, you understand that life will go on, and you will be OK. The stage can include good days and bad days and some days that fall somewhere in between. This is a period of transitioning and adjusting to life as it is now.

Grief and Addiction

Unfortunately, studies have shown a correlation between grief and addiction. Grief can often serve as the trigger for the onset of substance abuse or can be the reason for relapse. As a result, experiencing grief during treatment or in recovery can be especially devastating.

Seeking support during a time of grief is important for everyone. If you are or have battled with addiction, feeling supported and receiving guidance throughout the grieving process is vital. Grief can bring about intense negative emotions, some of which you may feel the need to avoid or escape. This can make it tempting to fall back into bad habits or look for a temporary fix to help ease the pain. Seeking and participating in various forms of therapy, support groups, and engaging with the addiction recovery community can be very beneficial.

Therapy

There are various forms of therapy that can be helpful in coping with times of grief. These can include group therapy specific to your situation or individual grief counseling. Additionally, holistic therapies such as sound or art therapy can be very beneficial to the healing process.

Community

During treatment, you learn to lean on your community in times of need. If you are grieving, this qualifies. Engaging with others who may have a similar background and are going through or have been through similar situations can be an excellent tool for healing. Feeling understood and supported by others during such a difficult time can promote healing and help you move forward.

Grief can be very difficult to cope with for anyone but can be especially tricky for those in treatment or recovering from substance use disorders. Grief comes in five stages, and most experience some form of each stage before they are able to move forward and carry on with some version of life as usual. Seeking support during each stage of grief and learning how to cope with the feelings that may accompany each stage can be vital to remaining on track with treatment and in recovery. You do not have to experience and cope with grief alone. At Enlightened Solutions, we offer a variety of therapeutic options to promote healing and teach coping strategies. We provide a recovery-focused community and take pride in our whole-person treatment approach. If you or someone you love is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, give Enlightened Solutions a call today at (833) 801-LIVE


Break Up

Surviving and Moving On After a Breakup

Maybe you saw it coming. You two hadn’t been getting along and the fights had become more frequent. You hadn’t seen each other as much. The calls and texts were becoming fewer and farther between.

Maybe it was sudden. Your partner said it wasn’t working out or you two weren’t right for each other. It doesn’t make sense. All you know is that you are alone and that you are hurting.

Although recovering from a heartache takes time, making sure that you are taking care of yourself will help the process along.

Food to Help Mend a Broken Heart

Grief may cause you to lose your appetite and it may be very hard to make yourself eat. Now is the time for comfort food, food that reminds you of happier times. For many people, that means food from childhood. Your favorite might be macaroni and cheese. If you wanted to boost the nutrition a bit, you could add pureed butternut squash or make it with whole-grain pasta. Cheese, despite being rich in calories, is rich in calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12. Eating cheese causes your brain to produce more dopamine and serotonin. Serotonin helps to regulate sleep and impulse control, and dopamine boosts mood, motivation, and attention and helps to regulate emotional responses. Other foods that boost serotonin levels include eggs, salmon, and nuts.

If you are a chocolate lover, feel free to indulge a bit. Cacao, the main ingredient of chocolate, enhances mood because it contains tryptophan which is used by the brain to produce serotonin. Also, most people associate chocolate with happy times, which helps. Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, contains antioxidants, which protect your body from the effects of free radicals.

Cooking for Comfort and Community

The act of cooking can make you feel better too. When you cook, you need to be aware and present. You need to focus on what you are doing in the moment. Cooking requires mindfulness, which can help reduce stress and anxiety. In addition, the act of cooking will take your mind off your heartache and provide you with a creative outlet.

Also, when you have a broken heart, you need the support of your friends. Cooking is a great way to bring people together and can remind you that you are not alone.

Make Time to Work Out

Although you may not feel like it, exercise will help you feel better. Working out is very important for your mental health. An article published in The Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry discussed the benefits of exercise and stated that aerobic exercise (like running, walking, swimming, cycling, and dancing) reduces anxiety, depression, and negative mood. Exercise also improves self-esteem and cognitive function. The article recommended that you get thirty minutes of moderate exercise 3 to 5 days a week. The benefit to you is improved sleep, stress relief, increased mental alertness, and an improved mood.

Make Time for Sleep

Grief can make it difficult to sleep, but getting good sleep is important to your mental health. Depression and anxiety can be made worse by lack of sleep. If you don’t already, make sure that you go to bed and get up at roughly the same time every day. Doing so will improve the quality of your sleep and keep some structure and routine in your daily life. 

If you are having trouble sleeping, try following the suggestions offered by the Sleep Foundation:

  • Make your bedroom comfortable and distraction-free
  • Have a relaxing bedtime routine
  • Keep naps short and don’t nap in the late afternoon
  • Spend about 30 minutes winding down (read, stretch, meditate, listen to soft music)
  • Dim the lights
  • Put electronic devices away 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime
  • Cut down or eliminate caffeine in the afternoon and evening

What Not to Do

As normal as it is to want to understand why the relationship ended and have closure, you may never know what happened. Resist the impulse to replay the entire relationship in your head. Don’t analyze old text messages looking for clues as to what went wrong and don’t spend all your time discussing the relationship with friends and family members. Don’t neglect your well-being and don’t isolate yourself. Don’t turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to escape from the pain. While it may bring you some relief in the near term, in the long run substance abuse will not help and can damage your physical and mental health.

The best cure for grief after a relationship is time. Although you can’t put time in a bottle, if you take care of yourself by eating well, spending time with family and friends, exercising, and getting restorative sleep, you will begin to feel better.

The end of a romantic relationship can be devastating. Although healing takes time, you can help the process by eating well, exercising, and getting restorative sleep. What you should not do is neglect your self-care, obsess over the relationship, isolate yourself from family and friends,  or turn to drugs or alcohol to cope. If your grief seems excessive to you or you find yourself abusing drugs or alcohol, you may need professional help. Grief is one of the mental health issues that Enlightened Solutions can help with. We are a drug and alcohol treatment center and we are licensed to treat co-occurring disorders. Our focus is on healing the whole person and we individualize a treatment plan for each client. In addition, to talk therapy and group support rooted in the 12-Step philosophy, we offer a number of holistic treatment modalities including yoga, meditation, art and music therapy, acupuncture, family constellation therapy, and equine therapy. If you are tired of struggling with addiction and ready to begin healing, call us at (833) 801-5483.


What to Say to Someone Who is Grieving

What to Say to Someone Who is Grieving

One of the most common things we are told by guests during a funeral is “I am sorry for your loss.” While you may be genuine in your response, coming up with different responses that come from your heart can make a big difference in how that person goes forward in their grief. Speaking from your heart and empathizing with what your loved one is going through can be a big help to their sadness and guide them back to happiness.

I Am Here For You To Lean On

You may not know what to say to someone who has lost someone if you have never been in that situation before. That person probably feels lost in the world and is questioning how life works like losing a spouse that they pictured spending their whole lives with or outliving your child. It can seem awkward and scary because you do not want to make anything worse for that person. But, doing nothing about a friend’s grief will make that person think you do not care enough to reach out. Just letting someone know that you will be there for them will provide them with a great source of comfort and warmth. It just needs to be told in the simplest way so that a person should never have to wonder if you will be there for them. Do not force being there for that person if your loved one is not ready to let anyone in yet. Just give them the option that if you are looking for a lending hand, you will be there to hold it and help feel better. 

I Can See You Tomorrow If You Would Like

Telling someone to let you know if they need anything is a very general request. Your loved one is too absorbed in their sadness to think of a helpful task for you. You should instead pick a task and commit to doing so. You can tell things that person things like you will bring a cake or a casserole to their house tomorrow or that you can just come for a visit to talk. You can also offer to help them do any chores that can lighten their load like any laundry, cooking, or picking up groceries. You can also help out your loved one’s children like picking them up from school or making lunches for them. Letting that person know about the task you are willing to accomplish for them will show that you are serious.

It Is Okay to Feel This Way

We tend to feel bad about feeling bad or crying in front of others. It may be common to tell someone not to cry because we want them to feel better. The truth is that your loved one will not feel better because you tell them to. You need to let them know that it is okay to feel sad. That they can try for the person they are grieving for and to let it out. Just let that person be how they are naturally instead of trying to change them. And again, let them know that no matter how bad they are feeling, they can always turn to you.

Ask About That Person

Remember that when someone is grieving, no one should forget about the person who passed away. You can ask that person if they have any favorite memories they should like to share or moments that made them laugh with them. Maybe you have never met the deceased person before and you would like your loved one to educate you on them. It will show them that you care enough to get to know someone that you never had the chance to meet. Or if you have met that person, you can share with your loved one your favorite memories of that person to make them smile again. 

Say Nothing

Sometimes, words do not need to be said because that person may be too distraught to respond or listen to anything you say. If you do not know what to say or you are worried that what you may say may make your loved one even more upset. When this happens, give your loved one a hug to provide them with the comfort they are seeking. Sometimes, listening to your loved one vent about their feelings is enough without having to provide commentary. Do not judge or give advice to your loved one unless that is something they are seeking from you. 

Expression in Other Ways

If you do not know what to say, show your sympathy for that person in other ways. You can help that person out with funeral expenses or send gift cards for food delivery services if they are too distraught to cook or leave the house. If your loved one does not want money from you, you can also offer to donate to a charity in that deceased person’s name whether it is related to the cause of death or a charity that person appreciated. It may feel strange being in situations where you are comforting someone who has lost someone as what you say cannot change the circumstances of that person’s death. But, being there for someone who has lost someone can make a big difference in that person’s mental health showing that there are people out there who are still there for them and are loved.

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress-reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Moving On From the Grief of a Breakup

Moving On From the Grief of a Breakup

Getting over a breakup can be a very hard thing to do. You grieve just like you would any other tragedy when this is something that you do not see coming and you have to picture your life without your partner around. By finding ways to occupy your time and focusing on yourself as a person, you will be able to move on from the grief of your recent breakup.

Searching for Answers

You may have thought everything was going great between you and your partner. Then out of nowhere, he or she tells you that it is not working out even though it was working for you. You become obsessed with finding out why this has happened and you keep replaying your whole relationship in your head until it makes you sick. You may have a lack of sleep as all you can think about is the pain and confusion. This may cause you to ask your friends, family, co-workers, or anyone else who has seen the two of you together to tell you what was wrong. At the same time, you are spending your time telling yourself that all of those potential problems were not worth a breakup.

Denial

Denial can be a hard emotion to get out of. You were not ready for your world to change and to accept these new changes. This places you to continue to stay in that world where you and your partner were happy because you felt safe. You do not want to believe that this relationship is over, so you will do everything that you can to save it. It can mean constantly calling, texting, or visiting your ex-partner until they want to get back together with you. You do not want to grieve because you know how painful that will be for you. This will mean that you will temporarily hold off on grieving by trying to save your relationship from crumbling.

Anger

Because you know how painful it is to be sad about the loss of your romantic relationship, you instead feel like it is easier to be angry. This anger can mean that you will lash out at your partner whenever you see them to break their hearts just like they broke yours. You may also direct anger at yourself in that you know whatever it was you did cannot be undone, leaving you to self-harm or take part in dangerous tasks with no thought to what will happen to you. The truth is that being angry at your ex-partner or yourself will not turn things back to the way they were. That you may be trying to avoid the grieving process without knowing that anger is part of it.

Acceptance

You might feel that by accepting your relationship is over, it means that you are giving up and surrendering. Acceptance only means that you are in tune with reality. You are telling yourself that it is over between you and your partner because you have to. You are more aware now that you and your partner are not meant to be. Boundaries will have to be a key thing that both you and your ex-partner will have to establish. It can be harder not to see your ex if you both have children. The point is to limit the time you two spend together and to find other focuses as a healthy distraction to what you have lost. For the sake of your mental health, you need to learn to let go of some things instead of holding on.

Hope

Hope is a new emotion you will experience during the grief of your failed relationship. Your hope is not directed at your relationship being fixed, but being able to live without your partner. It is hard to hope for something that you have no idea what will become later. But you can have hope that you will be able to smile again and save your energy towards your job, your children, or someone new in your life that will fill in the holes in your heart that your ex-partner created.

Self-Care

While you may not have a partner anymore to look good for, look good for yourself instead. This means showering, brushing your teeth, combing your hair, eating healthy, and getting enough sleep. Make sure to spend a lot of time with your friends and family as they can provide you with a sense of comfort and show you that you can experience love all around you. Get back to your regular routine of taking care of your children, pets, and going to work on time. Do not use drugs or alcohol as a method of coping as all it will come to is you wasting yourself away and making your grieving symptoms worse. This is also a good opportunity to explore new interests and activities to draw your energy on and make you happy.

Learn From Breakup

To provide yourself with closure as you look back on your old relationship, think of what problems you two were facing as well as if you intend to repeat those mistakes or go after the wrong type of person again. Do not see a breakup solely as a loss of something. After grieving from a breakup, you will realize that this is an opportunity to meet people who are better for you and to learn to love yourself. 

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress-reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Picking Yourself After Unemployment Grief

Picking Yourself After Unemployment Grief

It can be very stressful to lose your job. You feel like hope is lost and you will never find another job again. Even though the stress of unemployment can seem overwhelming, it is important to keep your head up high and never give up trying to better your life in order to take care of your mental health.

The Stress of Job Loss

Losing your job means that you lost how to make a living and support yourself and your family. Jobs give us structure and meaning in our lives where we use our positions at work to define ourselves and gives us something to do every day. Losing a job can mean you have lost your professional identity, self-esteem, daily routine, and sense of security. This can cause you to put yourself in a deep depression where you do not even bother applying to other jobs in fear that you will suffer rejection or lose that particular job as well. The reality is that you need to support yourself and staying in a depressive state will not help you in your grief. Making daily efforts to get hired will prove to yourself you are strong.

Change Your Negative Thoughts

Instead of thinking of losing your job as the end of the world, just see it as a temporary setback. The greatest people in the history books have had obstacles and setbacks to overcome, but they did not rise back up by giving up. All you can do is learn from experience and try again. Think about something new that you are looking for that you wish you had at your previous employment. You can also express your feelings differently. That means instead of wasting yourself away with drugs and alcohol, write your thoughts down in a journal to look at your situation in a realistic light and write a plan down on what you need to do to find your next job.

Talk to Someone

Normally when someone loses their job, they tend to stay away from their friends and family. They feel embarrassed to have to tell them that their job did not work out and that they are back to square one. Remember that everyone has been in your shoes before when it comes to job searching. It can be a long and tedious process, but it will be worth it when you finally get to your dream job. If you are afraid that your loved ones will be criticizing your job hunting tactics and push their opinions onto you on what you should do, just tell them you just want a listener. Judgment is not going to help you find a job faster, but knowing someone is willing to give their time to listen to you without any interruptions will make a lot of difference. Just open up to someone that you trust so that you are not keeping your feelings inside with no one to know about them.

Build Relationships

Expanding your social life can be beneficial in looking for a new job. You can do this by joining a class or a club where you can meet people who have connections. There are job hunting clubs where people exchange business cards with each other, support each other in their unemployment grief, and offer solutions. Volunteering is another great way to help you get out into the community and make connections. You may discover through your volunteering that you have skills you did not know you had that can be added to your resume like being a leader, organized, attentive, quick thinking, etc.

Stay Positive

You may have been used to having the same routine when you had a group where you wake up at this certain time and come home at this certain time. The truth is that you still can except instead of waking up to go to work, wake up to begin your job search. You can go to the library or a cafe to be in a different environment than your home. Make a job searching plan of where you plan on job searching such as online job boards, newspapers, businesses to call, etc. Whenever you are feeling down, look at the part of your resume where you have listed your skills. This should make you feel good about yourself having skills that many others do not have that make you appealing to businesses. 

It is important to think about what you can control. You cannot control whether or not an employer calls you back or likes your application. All you can do is keep applying instead of waiting for an email or by the phone to hear back from that one company. Do not stop applying. The worst that can happen to you is that you hear back from a lot of companies and you have choices to make about where you want to work. Think if there are any new skills that you can learn, fix your resume or cover letter, or look back at the business cards you have collected and figure out who you can call. Telling yourself that you are going to give up finding a job will not help you find a job. The important thing you can do to ensure that you are no longer depressed about unemployment is doing everything you can to find a job and making positive connections along the way.

 

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress-reducing techniques centered around a 12-Step network, you will ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


How to Treat Your Depression After the Loss of a Pet

How to Treat Your Depression After the Loss of a Pet

Losing a pet is no different than losing a relative. Your pet has always made it their mission to fill you with love and they were always there for you. As difficult as it can be, it is still possible to heal yourself from the depression you will face after losing a pet by acknowledging the pain you are in as well as remembering the good times you had with them.

Acknowledge Your Grief

You may be trying to hide your grief from yourself and others in that you feel like it is not as if you lost a friend or a relative. But, the truth is that you have. You got this pet at a young age and took care of him or her through feeding, picking up after them, teaching them obedience, and were a great support system when you did not want to be alone. There is no reason to be ashamed of grieving for an animal as they played a big role in your life. Tell yourself that the tears, heartache, frustration, and grief you are feeling for the loss of your pet is real and reasonable. We also feel grief for them in that these pets provided us with unconditional love. We did not have to do anything to force them to love us, but they did it naturally which is a more common trait in animals than humans.

Grieving Works Differently For Everyone

Everyone grieves in a different way just like when you are mourning a human. Some people prefer to be active and engage with other people who have felt with this kind of grieve before. Then, there are others who prefer to stay inside to work through their feelings. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. The important thing is to not hide your feelings as it is not healthy for you to keep them inside.

Feel What’s Natural

Do not allow anyone to tell you that it is wrong or unnatural to feel so sad over the death of your pet. You were the one caring for your pet and taking care of them so only you will know what is considered a reasonable way to grieve. Do not allow people to tell you when it is time to move on or get over it. The sadness will lessen over time and cannot be rushed. Do not feel embarrassed for showing compassion, being angry, crying, or even laughing when a joyous memory of your pet enters your mind.

Create a Legacy

Honor your pet by showing just how important they were to you. This can mean making a memorial by hanging a casting of their paw print somewhere in the house or planting a tree in their memory. You can make a photo or video scrapbook of all of the recorded memories you have of your pet so that you can look back on happier times whenever you feel sad. This legacy will help you not to further grieve your pet, but to celebrate the life they had with you and to thank them for filling your life with wonderful memories.

Look for Support

Remember that you are not the only person in the world who is grieving for their pet. Look for online message boards, pet loss hotlines at the ASPCA Pet Loss Hotline at 877-474-3310, and support groups. Do not spend too much of your time being around those who are not going to support you through this hard time. Be around those who will comfort you and understand the pain you are in. If you are around others who have lost their pets before, you can learn about how to cope with the pain and you will realize that you are not alone.

Take Care of Yourself

Grieving for your pet can make you feel emotionally drained and tired. You need to be able to take care of other people in your house such as your spouse, children, and other pets you may have. You also need to look after your own physical and emotional needs like eating and sleeping right as well as exercising. By being active in your life, you will release endorphins that will help boost your mood.

Be There For Your Pets

When you lose one pet, the other pets in your house are grieving as well as they were close with each other as well. When you are sad, your other pets will feed off of that sadness. Keep feeding, walking, and giving your other pets love and continue with this routine. By increasing the times you have go outside and play as well as the love you give them, everyone in the house will be happy knowing that there is still time for you all to make new, happy memories with each other.

Get Professional Help

Depression is when your sadness persistently interferes with your daily routine. If this is the case after the loss of your pet, you should think about receiving professional help from a therapist. The best way to cope with the loss of your pet is to smile when you think of them as they served a vital purpose in keeping you happy when they were alive. You do not need a “good” reason to be depressed, but to acknowledge the sadness you feel for your pet and to do something to cope with your grief.

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress-reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Grief Responses

Grief Responses

Losing loved ones is often a very traumatic and painful experience. Not only do we miss them, our sadness can be compounded by anger and resentment, at the departed, at the higher power that took them away, at ourselves for our mistakes. We may feel guilt ridden and ashamed for the ways in which we feel we let our loved ones down. Our complex emotions, when not expressed in healthy ways, can create grief responses that can make the mourning process all that much more difficult to recover from.

Like many kinds of trauma, a death can prompt us to want to escape the pain. It can be unbearable to lose someone who plays a major part in our lives, whom we are closely connected to, whom we love deeply. Addicts feel a strong urge to numb that pain and self-medicate with drugs or other forms of escape and distraction- food, work, sex, anything that might soothe the pain, even for a little while. As we come to learn, though, the pain returns, and we can only run from it so long before it catches up with us. Becoming dependent upon unhealthy substances or behaviors can compound and exacerbate the pain of the initial loss. Instead of allowing ourselves the time and space to process our emotions in healthy ways, we may find that the grief accumulates within us and creates all kinds of emotional blocks and difficulties.

One such difficulty for people who have survived a traumatic loss can be a newly heightened sense of anxiety, anger and reactivity. They might find themselves easily agitated or aggravated. They might feel uneasy, restless or scared, more often. They might become easily enraged and transfer that rage to the people around them, without provocation. They might find certain things highly triggering. A build-up of unexpressed sadness can cause people to seem lost, or “off,” and to exhibit erratic behavior that is not normal for them. You might even find yourself uncomfortable with, or afraid of, their behavior. Grief can be extremely destabilizing, and especially so when we don’t process it in ways that allow us to fully feel and express it.

After losing a loved one, it is so important for us to find ways to cope with the pain. Grief is something that stays within us, we might never “get over” it, but we owe it to ourselves and the loved ones we lost to find healthy coping strategies, for the sake of our peace and wellness.

Let Enlightened Solutions help you process your pain. You don’t have to do it alone. Call (833) 801-LIVE.


Moving Through Grief

Moving Through Grief

Losing a loved one can cause us indescribable grief. Sometimes there are no words for the pain we feel, the emotional anguish that can leave us reeling for years afterwards. There is no one way to grieve, but there are some ways to help ourselves through the process.

Be with people who understand your pain, who can empathize, and who make you feel safe to talk, cry or express anger. Avoid being with people who tell you to “get over it,” who try to rush the mourning process, or who try to sweep the sadness under the rug of positive thinking. Sometimes when we are grieving, the last thing we need to hear is “she’s in a better place,” or “he’s always with you in spirit.” Instead we might need the safe space and the time to express our sadness and have it be met with compassion and empathy.

Sit with the pain rather than trying to avoid it. Grief and the memories we associate it can stay with us for years, sometimes for a lifetime. Trying to pretend it’s not there, or that we’re ok when we’re not, only hurts us more. Stopping ourselves from crying because it hurts too much, or because we don’t feel safe with the people we’re around, can cause us to hold onto that pain energy in unhealthy ways, creating emotional blocks within us. There is a saying that grief is like a river, we must let it flow. Cry when you need to. It can feel so much better to let it out than to bury it. Running from our pain sets us up for all kinds of self-destructive coping mechanisms, emotional problems and addictive behaviors.

Honor your loved ones. This can be done by writing them a letter or a song, lighting a candle for them, or dedicating a special meal or holiday to them. Journal about the memories you shared with them. If you are holding onto anger towards them, or towards yourself in the form of regret or shame, work to forgive and let go of those burdens. Some of us talk to our loved ones who have passed on and continue to receive signs and guidance from them. When our loved ones pass, it can help us to keep their memory alive, to keep them present in our minds and hearts, to share our memories of them with others. When it comes to grief, one of the most damaging things we can do for our mental and emotional health is try to suppress it rather than looking for healthy ways to express it.

We listen, and we understand. Many of us have personal experience with recovery. Enlightened Solutions offers therapy, mentoring, and friendship. Call (833) 801-LIVE today.


Does Pain Cultivate Empathy?

Seeing Grief as a Spiritual Cycle

When we experience a loss in our life, grief is the natural response to the loss.  The five stages of grief are the phases of grief that most people experience. The five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  The stages can occur in different order and some stages may occur simultaneously.  The way that grief is experienced by different people varies greatly and allowing people to have their own experience encourages greater emotional health for communities.  It is essential not to repress grieving process so that the loss becomes fully integrated.  This allows the person experiencing loss to move fully back to the present moment.  

For a recovering individual, anger as the stage of grief may require may require heightened awareness and potentially therapeutic support.  Anger is a cautionary emotion for addicts as it can lead to relapse. Yet, it is also a natural emotional response to loss.  Those in recovery need to be mindful about excessive stewing in anger as they experience this stage of grief.  However, this mindfulness must be tempered with the understanding that grief and all of its stages, including anger, are experienced uniquely by different individuals.

Loss and the accompanying grief are not wished upon anyone, but there is profound beauty in the grieving process in response to loss.  As an individual goes on this journey of releasing and rebirthing, there is often a renewal within themselves for life.  In some cases, they rediscover appreciation for all that they do have and love, or a new vision of life springs forward.  There may be a passion project that is born in response to the loss.  In the cases of deep grief, a person who normally is emotionally contained may need to lean heavily on those around them.  This deepened intimacy in response to grief may evolve relationships to a deeper place of connection that continue beyond the grieving process.  

Appreciate what may come forward from a grief journey while also honoring the difficulty of the experience.  As with ancient tribes preparing for the coming winter during the summer harvest, build your community knowing that this process visits everyone.  While in Winter, trust that Spring will always return. The emotional abundance of Spring will be vastly shaped vastly by the way that you prepared for Winter.  

If you are struggling with addiction, alcoholism, and/or mental health, know that there is hope. There is a solution. Harmoniously fusing together the best elements of clinical care, holistic healing, and 12-step philosophy, Enlightened Solutions has created a program of total transformation for men and women seeking recovery. Call 833-801-5483 today for information on our partial care programs in New Jersey.


The Ongoing Grief Of Losing A Parent

Many turn to substance abuse out of a need to cope with emotional pain. Feelings of abandonment, neglect, isolation, being different, or having the symptoms of mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety, can drive one to need a mind calming solution. Drugs and alcohol provide people the solace, escape, and comfort they need to get through challenging emotional circumstances. One of the most significant life events someone can experience is the loss of a parent. Grieving the loss of a critical life figure is emotionally taxing, spiritually breaking, and difficult task.

Grief, in all of its stages, can feel like it will never end. Losing someone special like a parent leaves a hole and a void in our lives that forever will go unfilled. Attempting to fill that hole with drugs and alcohol may anesthetize the pain temporarily. However, the longer we prevent ourselves from feeling through the cycle of grief, we only delay the inevitable. No drug and no drink, despite our willful attempts, can truly make that pain go away. Somehow, when it comes to emotional experiences, it is only by thoroughly feeling and processing grief that it can be resolved.

Being in the safe and therapeutic environment of treatment, at any level, is a considerable place to being working on grief. As you begin to dissect the relationship that might exist between your substance abuse and the loss of a significant loved one in your life, take these suggestions to heart:

It’s true, nobody could possibly understand unless they’ve experienced it

You might be quick to get angry, resentful, or write off people who try to sympathize with what you’ve experienced. Rightfully, you find it hard to relate to anyone’s sympathy if they themselves have not lost a parent. Try to remain open to receiving emotional support and seek the similarities in what your peers offer you, rather than focus on the differences.

Experience your emotions authentically and take care of yourself

Learning how to participate in self-care is a part of the recovery process when you are in treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. On particularly tough days, know that it’s okay to just not be entirely okay. It is also okay to do what you need to do to take care of yourself. Remember, though, you are learning what that means. There is a difference between isolating and taking quiet time for yourself. Help stay grounded in your choices by allowing others to guide you and listen to your needs.

Enlightened Solutions uses the spiritual healing of holistic practices supported by strong evidence based practice and 12 step philosophy. By seeking understanding through underlying circumstances, our program helps residents gain insight to their addictions. We offer certified dual diagnosis treatment for both substance abuse and other mental health disorders. For more information call 844-243-LIVE.