How to Cope: Grieving the Loss of a Loved One to Addiction

Most all of us can say we have lost a loved one at one point or another…

Rather it was a brother or sister, mom or dad, grandparent, etc. Death is just a part of life and is experienced by everyone, at some phase in life.

While it is sad in nature regardless of the circumstances, the circumstances surrounding the death and the timing of it can only intensify the event…

One contributing factor that often contributes to a death is much harder to deal with is when it is the result of addiction – and typically, this cause of death takes someone in a very untimely scenario.

What is grieving?

Grieving, by definition, is to suffer grief (sadness, upset, distress, pain, or hurt) because of something. So, following the death of a loved one, you will go through a stage of grieving…

But this is intensified when you are struggling with how they died:

You might feel guilty.

It is hard to not feel like there is something you could have done. You might find yourself dwelling on the “what ifs” …  Even if you tried everything in your power, you might still feel as though you didn’t do enough – like there was always another option you should have tried or even discovered.

You might get grief about it.


People will be quick to judge someone for their past, and just because someone has passed does not mean people will cease passing judgment – they will still label your loved one as an “addict”, which can be hard to hear while grieving…

The stigma won’t let up – people might forget to acknowledge that your loved one was once your small child who ran around on the playground or your mom who taught you how to tie your shoes…

But, you will get through this.


One thing you have to remember is that no one can truly understand what you are going through – just like you could not understand the disease your loved one was suffering from, others cannot understand the grief you are feeling.

And, ultimately, addiction is a disease. It was not necessarily by the fault of your loved one – the disease is what took them from you. Just like cancer or AIDS, just the details of the disease are slightly different.

And lastly, remember, it is not your fault. Ultimately, they either made the choice or lacked the will power to get better. In the end, you could not have stopped them. You cannot make decisions for them. You are not them.



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