In my experience grief means to learn acceptance. Learning to accept someone or something lost.
Maybe the loss was a loved one, a pet, or even a car. Although some grief feels stronger, all mourning holds common ground. During my transition from being an active addict to an addict in recovery grief was the one topic I had no desire in touching. I believed if I ignored the hurt somehow it would disappear. My grief became a part of me, locked to the deepest part of my core. If I was capable of masking such trauma no one would be able to make me relive the heartache. It wasn’t until years later that I realized the key to peace would be found in reliving that moment over and over. Addiction stole my life from me in more ways than one. It stole my family, my sanity, my innocence, my possessions, everything I stood for.
Unfortunately addiction also took my love and best friend. It was June 20th when I received the phone call. As I heard the words “Nathan has overdosed” slowly break away from his sisters quivering lips I turned cold and dropped to my knees. While I sat in the car on the way to the hospital the rage subsided and disbelief began to take over. The world became still, dark, I too had died. As his body laid motionless in the hospital bed; I remember the exact position of the equipment, the way his lips felt cold, the sound of him gasping for air while on life support. I laid beside him and wept while I kissed his perfect face, begging for him to stay. I promised I would keep him safe. Just after midnight God had plans of his own and called him home
I went into rehab unable to process the grief, convincing myself that his death didn’t truly happen. I distorted my own reality by saying he was either in jail or away playing lacrosse. In dismissing my feelings I shut out his family who was my own, I became angry, and could no longer find happiness. I battled with my grief for three years and never spoke a word. As his fourth year death anniversary approached I felt the inability to hide from the sadness I carefully buried. The pain hit me, suddenly and hard. I spent months crying, unable to get out of bed, questioning everything leading to the event when I finally caught a glimpse of relief. The memories of our seven years spent together came flooding back and I enjoyed reliving every day with him. The sadness of losing Nathan has not lessened nor has it gotten easier but it has become bearable. Once I decided to replace sorrow with love, I started to heal.
Throughout my journey with grief I’ve learned many different things, one being the inability to compare loss. Understanding one’s underlying distress can be attempted but never genuinely felt. This is what individualizes grief making each case its own. Another key point I found helpful was recognizing that there is no correct way to grieve. In the beginning I ignored the pain by pushing it further down and allowed the fury to consume me. It took me years to realize that allowing myself to grieve meant I was brave, strong, and capable of letting the suffering go. Initially I thought accepting loss meant I was allowing the loss to become real, that it was okay. I felt I was welcoming the idea of no longer having that physical love. I questioned myself as to why I would consider accepting such loss. In questioning myself I found that I didn’t “want” acceptance but “needed” it.
I spent endless nights wondering if there was something I should’ve or could’ve done to prevent his death, but there wasn’t. In doing this I destroyed myself in thinking if I got into the car two seconds earlier, I could have prevented the overdose. If he would have answered the phone or even brushed his teeth for an extra minute, he wouldn’t be gone. Maybe the two extra minutes could have saved him. Maybe the loss was inevitable or maybe his life would have been taken the next day for a different reason.
I strongly believe the beauty of the world would disappear if mankind had the ability to control heartache. Lessons wouldn’t be of value. I now remind myself I am only human, not intended to be perfect. Nor am I intended to comprehend how or why death happens. Today I understand I am only capable of damage control. I can either choose suffering or I can choose to be in control. After all, grief is the price paid for loving so much. What would loss mean if love wasn’t attached? It would be considered a win. Losing something or someone meaningless show no attachment. I chose to embrace the ebb and flow of every unseen wave while learning to swim.
I am able to relive the pain because I chose to control my grief, not allow the grief to control me. Accepting loss isn’t hard, it’s quite possibly the most traumatic lifelong roller coaster one can endure. I loved hard but I lost even harder. Love covered all of my offenses and most importantly it changed me. Would I be happier if I could avoid grief all together? The answer is no. If loss meant I was given the opportunity to love I would do it all over. I’m happy I was able to love Nathan for as long as I did.
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Recovery isn’t just about sobriety, it is about living life on life’s terms and becoming responsible and productive. After an often lifelong struggle with addiction, many people find themselves without some of the basic skills to make their lives comfortable and happy.
At Broadway Treatment Center we are equipped with a compassionate and highly trained staff, where we can help you address these issues. Their first priority is making sure our clients are comfortable and on the right path to recovery. We have many different program tracks, amenities, and approaches to addiction recovery. This allows us to treat a wide range of patients, we truly have something for everyone. Please give us a call today at 714-443-8218 to speak with one of our addiction counselors, or visit our website at www.broadwaytreatmentcenter.com.