September was National Recovery Month, and we shared stories of recovery, of celebration and happy endings to tough journeys. With addiction, the journey doesn’t always have a happy ending. Then where do we go?

Recovery, like grief and hope, comes in many sizes and when we lose a child or a loved one to addiction (or anything else for that matter), we need to recover as well.

This October, we will cross the eight year mark of Robby’s passing. As a family, we still grieve, probably daily, but that grief takes on different forms and different intensities. Nonetheless, it is still grief and still must be dealt with.

In the eight years since Robby left for Heaven, over 400,000 others have been taken by this disease. So many families impacted. So many families still grieving today in need of their own recovery. So, we thought that sharing about grief might open the door to a different recovery; a recovery of the heart and spirit. We know that life is never going to be the same. There will always be an emptiness. There will always be grief. We also know each day will come and go, and in that twenty four hour window, we must choose how we will wade through those hours.

Within our Family Matters team is a wonderful friend, Linda. She and her husband Joe founded Joshua House in Medina to help families deal with grief. We asked Linda to share a little bit about how to start that recovery process. Her thoughts are below.

But before you start reading, please just remember. You are not alone.

Grief comes in all shapes and sizes, and so does hope.

When I was asked to write about grief, I must admit, I thought it would be easy. After all, I have 4 1/2 years of personal experience, I have worked with many types of grief, and many people at different stages of grief. Before my own loss, the death of my 25-year-old son to a heroin/fentanyl overdose, I never really thought much about grief. Now, I see it everywhere and I am acutely aware that it is all around me.

Grief comes is all shapes and sizes. When we think of grief, we mostly think of death. However, any loss can cause us to grieve. A son, daughter, or friend lost in the cycle of addiction; Divorce, the loss of a marriage that was meant to last a lifetime; the loss of a job, whether it is a choice or firing, it is a loss of security and familiarity. All these things impact dreams, hopes, and what should have been. Any loss can bring grief.

So what do we do?

We have this grief, either sitting on our chest and weighing us down; coming in waves that knock us to the ground or carry us out to uncharted waters; uncontrollable emotion, anger, fear, confusion, sadness, they bring tears, brain fog, racing thought, numbness and sometimes they are there all at once. At the beginning just lean into it and let it out. These are some examples of what I have been given in my experience and healing that you can do, but if you need to have someone with you, please do. You do not have to go through this alone. Someone to hold your hand or listen can be very important.

  1. Lean into the tears and pain, let it out, cry until you can’t anymore.
  2. Be angry, find a safe place to scream, throw pillows or something at the wall, rocks into a pond or river.
  3. I am a big believer in journaling. I don’t do it every day, but enough so that in the past 4 years I have filled two thick notebooks. I have written things I never expected, never thought about consciously, but as I write it comes pouring out and makes perfect sense.
  4. I am also a big proponent of counseling. In the beginning, finding a grief counselor can be essential if you feel overwhelmed or numb. Sometimes just being in a group that has experienced the same thing you have is a great comfort.
  5. Talk about what you’re feeling. Find the person that will just listen; it can be your spouse, your best friend, a counselor, your priest or pastor.
  6. Pray! You can tell God anything. You can tell Him how sad you are. You can tell Him how angry you are, with Him or the person that hurt you. You can tell Him you don’t understand why this is happening to you. You can tell Him anything and he will just love you and hold you and give you strength. Let everyone’s prayers hold you up when feel like you are falling. There are a lot of people praying for you, even people who you don’t know. Prayer is powerful.

So, just as grief comes in all shapes and sizes, so does hope.

Hope is something to reach for and hold onto. This is a difficult journey and hope can keep you afloat in the waves and take that weight off your chest. Think of what you hope to find at the end of this journey– through grief or maybe just hope for what tomorrow will bring. See it with your mind and your heart. Sometimes hope is all we have…but it is wonderful.

I think that is enough for now, but I’ll be back and share more.