Staying Sober Through Grief & Loss
My step mom had become my mom when I was eleven, and my dad remarried. She was the only mom I knew, because my biological mom disappeared when I was four years old. Of course I never imagined that I would end up losing this mom too!
It has been three years since my (step) mom passed away. I went through a period of time when I was really irritated about the fact that she died when I was sober, instead of when I was drinking – that would have been much easier, right? I mean who is ready to lose a mom, let alone be sober for it all! But somehow, for some reason, I was also determined to get through it and stay sober. I heard people in meetings share that they were able to stay sober through horrendous crisis in their lives, and that gave me the strength, and the encouragement to keep going.
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.
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.
That was my craziness, I woke up in different places not remembering where I started or what ever happened, many times. Then, every time, I drank more over it, thus continuing the vicious cycle…
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!”
“Well I think I am ok. Mom is getting worse, my poor brother had to see my dad – the Rock – crying on Sunday. I’ve had the fuck-its on and off but haven’t want to drink, well that’s not entirely true, I’ve been wanting something to make this all go away! But then Amy Winehouse died and bam! There it is again, this shit kills! So I am sober, not quite happy about it at times… but the alternative is so much worse!”
“My mom is getting much worse. I am so overwhelmed. I want this all to go away. I want to pretend that it’s not happening. I don’t know how to do this. I am mad a god! Really mad, he makes no sense, is this his will? If it is then that is some f-ed up will. I don’t want to drink and I don’t want to go thru this. I keep thinking there has to be another option. But what??
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.
This is a huge change, which not even I expected. I mean everybody’s parents die at some point, that means everyone has to go thru this, yet I did not think it was gonna be this difficult.
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 the links to many useful resources in the sidebar, and always feel free to contact me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, please check out these very helpful articles, one from Recovery.org, 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.