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Staying Sober Through Grief & Loss



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I am hoping that in the same light, if you are dealing with a death of a loved one, and are determined to stay sober, this post will give you some hope.

My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001. It was the same year that I began a very dysfunctional relationship with my daughter’s father, and the same year that I left a great job because I couldn’t stay sober enough to continue it. It was also the same year that the terrorist attacked the USA on 9/11 and in a blink of an eye, almost 3,000 people died. And… it was also the same year that my mom decide to cancel her double mastectomy surgery, and the same year that I was arrested for a DUI and lost my license.

All of those events gave me reasons to drink. Not justifiable reasons, just self-pity ones. How can all this be happening to ME!?

My mom fought cancer for ten years. I still struggle with the fact that I was not there for her or my family for all that time. I just escaped it all, night after night. I was incapable of giving any care or support of any kind. I didn’t ask questions, I didn’t call and I didn’t visit. I couldn’t handle knowing yet I was devastated.

I got sober when her cancer was in remission, but after a year it came back and was now in her spine. I tried so hard to reach out and help but I was so retitled with guilt and shame, that I was practically paralyzed and could not move past it.

When I was three years sober my mom was given 3-6 months to live as the cancer had now attacked her brain and formed a large, inoperable tumor.


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Now, with a new fear, that she was going to die and I was never going to be able to move past my guilt and shame, I decided that it was time to put my big girl panties on, and get past it. With lots of help from my recovery support network, I slowly integrated myself into the family that I barely knew, and worked on being of service in any way I could.

So today on the third year anniversary I sit here with mixed emotions once again. I miss her in so many ways, yet I barely knew her. She was the idea of a mom that I always wanted yet was never able to embrace.

I am sharing here with you some of my blog posts from the time before she passed. They have helped me heal and move forward past my grief.

“Time has slipped away, or maybe it’s been standing still… waiting for death is quite overwhelming. My mom seems ok for now, but according to the docs predictions she should pass sometime this week.

It’s been somewhat of a struggle to stay sober; just for the sheer pleasure of not feeling this way I would drink, but I am finding ways to deal instead. Music has been huge help, going to meetings and staying connected with program friends too. My relationship with HP is bit off, I think it is easy to believe there is a god if things are going well, but when they are not I start questioning his mere existence. I don’t want to judge him but I can’t understand why? Oh well try not to ponder that one too much.

But, luckily, every time I think a drink would be nice, I get flooded with memories…they don’t seem to be as glamorous as I once envisioned them. They sort of make me squirm and feel pretty disgusted with myself – I suppose that’s good. I remembered that I once passed out in a bathroom at a party, they had to break the door down to get me out.

silhouette photo of a man in a tunnel

Photo by lalesh aldarwish on

I used to hate these memories, I carried so much self-pity with them, but today I want to thank them. I don’t ever want to be living like that again, I don’t ever want to feel like that again and I don’t ever want to be that person again. I WILL stay sober no matter what, just to not ever, ever be in that crazy life again, and all those crazy situations that I have ever put myself in, while drunk! Thank you memories!

I need to find a place to bury mom. I need to help dad with legal stuff. I need to support my brothers and I need to help mom with whatever I can. That’s a tall order. I don’t know where to start.

Ugh, I can’t do this… I keep thinking, but deep down inside I know I can. I have a huge support system. I have wonderful friends there who have gone thru this and sober. I know there others and they made it through. It gives me hope and strength. One day at a time.

Yes I am still sober and even though I want an escape everyday, I haven’t really had the urge to drink, but eating candy is another story. Maybe this is a strange analogy but I feel like going thru my mom dying is sort of like getting sober. No one really understands what I am going thru unless they too have gone thru it. And I can’t quite picture life without mom, yet it’s so hard to see her suffering now. And I have to just live one day at a time, sometimes one hour and find something positive in every day.

So some positives in all this: I get to be of service, I get to spend time with my family, I get to help and support them, and I get to make a living amends.”

My mom passed away on November 30th, 2011, and only because I was sober, I was able to be by her side, until her last breath.

If you’re going through a difficult time after a loss of a loved one, please click the Find Support link at the top of this page for an extensive list of support groups.

Also, please check out these very helpful articles, one from, called: 6 Tips for Dealing with Grief & Loss in Recovery,  and the other from Choose Help, called A No-Relapse Guide to Coping with Grief & Loss.

Suffering involves experiencing pain alone. We recycle it and release nothing. Grieving involves sharing pain with others and allowing ourselves to release it. …read full article HERE.



  1. As always you have helped me. As you know, my mother is dying. She gets worse each week now. Before it was longer periods of time between new symptoms making themselves known.
    It would be so easy to drink now, and blame it on her dying. But I can’t.
    There is an HP at work here. It brought me you, and your knowledge about all the things that I was going through, and the things to come that neither of us were aware of.
    If that isn’t SOMETHING, than I don’t know what is.
    Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Maggie, I quit drinking 13 months ago. I didn’t have a huge problem, good job, solid home life, but I knew I was drinking too much. About a month after I quit my Dad was diagnosed with cancer, then a few months after, my sister. Because I was not drinking I was present and was able to help them. I am forever grateful that I I was there for them and that I was sober.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, I am sorry to hear but how wonderful that you were sober. I am glad you got to be there for them and help them through such a difficult time. That is such a gift!

      And congrats on 13 months! Woot woot! That’s awesome! 🎂🎂🎂


  3. My mum died 10 years ago (from an overdose, during a relapse) and I have three younger siblings, I am the eldest. I only got sober earlier this year, just before the 10th anniversary of her death and it hit me hard. Like I had, for the first time, started to grieve for her, properly. My amends to my sisters were emotional; our mum’s death was the start of my alcoholism and I wasn’t present for them, they are a lot younger, only 7 and 13 when she died. I am not sure I will ever get over the guilt that I was drinking when she died, or that I wasn’t present for my sisters. I cannot make amends to my brother as he is in the middle of a battle with drugs and it is heartbreaking to see but also, brings a perspective to me as to what my family witnessed with me for 10 years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your comment. I can relate to how you feel, completely. It’s so hard to believe that we can be so wrapped up in our disease that nothing else matters. But be gentle with yourself – you were sick and just not capable of being able to support anyone. I know it’s hard to get rid of the shame and the guilt, but they serve no purpose except they give us lots of reason to beat ourselves up. And well, that’s not useful either. You always can do a living amends by being there for them now! And that’s a huge gift too. By staying sober we can move on and be available when loved ones need us. So, really don’t be so hard on yourself.

      Hope you’re doing well. Sending many hugs.


  4. Thank you so much for sharing your experience strength and hope, you are a true inspiration to me, I am 4 years into recovery now and dealing with grief is something I still find incredibly difficult, but I know that staying sober is the only answer!! As difficult as it can be we have a whole fellowship who are there to support us in our journey and especially through the hard times, we are so lucky to have each other.

    Melbourne Australia

    Liked by 1 person

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