got grief?

There’s grief in the air.  Two emails in two days from two different people talking about grief.  The first bit I want to share is a comment I wrote to Anonymous.  It is in response to a comment she posted on yesterday’s post, and i figured i’d copy part of my text here, cuz comments have a way of disappearing.

So first here’s me, this is part of what I wrote to Anonymous (who is 8ish months sober):

I think grief is a big stress, and it’s subtle. Like, there’s lots of crying to start, and then there’s none, and then later there’s ‘crying for no reason’. I once read that colds were uncried tears. and while I don’t believe that, every time I’m crying I think “at least I’m not getting sick.” and really, I’m a crier, barely need an excuse! I think that crying is fine. normal. good even. and wanting to drink to hide from crying or to hide from feelings is … well, it’s normal, because it’s what we USED to do. and some of those habits and patterns are still there. Maybe they’re hidden better after 8 months, but if you throw in a bit of grief or real distress, then the old patterns can easily surface.

And also, i got this email from J a couple of days ago, and she said i could share. Oh yeah, J is on day 147 today!:

Had a difficult day yesterday and wanted to drink all afternoon.  I’m again adding to our list of “even ifs….”: [I will not drink even if i am] dealing with finding an elderly neighbor who died two days ago, alone in his house.  So sad, brought up feelings of loss, grief, loneliness, finality, fragility of life … I just wanted to drink after dealing with the surprisingly detailed process of sending him off.  But, I didn’t drink — I just sat here and felt it all, knowing the numbness of the bottle would only be temporary relief.  I also knew I didn’t want to report in this morning with another day 1 … so thanks for that.

I think that J’s solution, as she articulates it here, is really very perfect. And I’m going to save her advice for when I need it next.  Sit and feel it. Know that numbness would only be temporary, and would in all likelihood make things much much worse. Feelings are sometimes uncomfortable, they’re sad, they’re weird, they’re distressing. Sit and feel it.

and i would also add… reach out for help. get support BEFORE you need it.  don’t wait till you’ve go the bottle of wine already opened… post or read or call or reach out early. feeling crummy? reach out. found out your neighbor died (good god!), email someone. don’t let wolfie get wound up and running around in there.  Don’t let him get any momentum going!
what do you think about grief and how to handle feelings of loss? i’m a big crier… and a runner.  can’t really do them at the same time, though… and i’m a sleeper.
what else could we add to the grief toolkit?


I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

  • I walk. And walk and walk. Then take a hot bath and go to bed. I used to drink.And drink and drink. Then take a hot bath(forget to wash my face, brush my teeth or put lotion on.
    I like the new way better. I look a little better in the morning also:)

  • I lost my mom in sobriety too. And for some strange reason I didn’t feel like drinking either. The feelings came in like a thunder and left just to come back again later… Grief was strange and it was so new to me I treated it like getting sober, one day at a time. I think it is important to get support and talk to people who have been thru it, though I didn’t feel like talking myself I ended up listening most of the time. Hang in Anonymous and J, this too shall pass! Cry all you want and need, it does help, it releases the pain little by little. hugs!

  • Yes, I lost my Dad when I was about 15 months sober. The funny thing is, I do not remember wanting to drink, not even having the thought cross my mind. I’m not sure why that is, to be honest, but I’m very grateful for it. I was almost 3 months pregnant at the time, and the truth is that if I were really determined to drink, even while pregnant, I would have done it to cope. But I never thought, “God, I wish I weren’t pregnant, so I could drink!” I just didn’t want the drink.

    I think I was just DONE with drinking, DONE with the whole damn thing, DONE with the lying and plotting and hangovers and never ending self-hatred. It’s like a switch flipped inside of me, and I just decided that no matter what happened, I was going to cope with it sober. Even if it felt like it would kill me.

    Getting to that mental place is damn hard; it’s a weird combination of sheer desperation and choosing to let go. But if anyone is going to stay sober, it must be reached. No way around it.

    Getting there is one thing: staying there is another. This is where we need to ask for help. And we must ask for help before it’s a full-blown crisis and we are staring at the bottle on our kitchen counter. All alcoholics must take that responsibility in their sobriety – we can only do it for ourselves.

  • Grief! I remember the first time I felt it, and it was like, I couldn’t drink I felt so bad. It was like, OK, drinking is not going to make a dent in how I’m feeling. I’m not sure I know much about getting through grief, but I know that getting through my other mood dips, and general feelings of depression and “what’s the point? I’m never going to be good enough” takes work. Sitting and breathing through it. But also, like you said Belle, not letting it get to that. Cutting it off at the corner by one, not drinking too much caffeine so I don’t have the dreaded caffeine crash; two, reaching out to people BEFORE I start to think it’s OK and perfectly healthy to feel sorry for myself…which makes me feel helpless, and wanting to drink; three, doing physical activity that quite literally propels me forward (walking and running, but any physical workout helps). Great post, Belle! *honk honk* *swish swish* (the sound of my unicorn’s mane)

  • Love the accountability of what you’re doing here Belle…bravo! Sometimes all you need is that, “Damn…I don’t want to have to tell them all that I drank” feeling to get you through a rough patch.

    Love this!!!