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The Process of Grief

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassions, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” – Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

At some point in life we will all experience the loss of someone we dearly love and care about. It can be through sudden death, illness, or even a breakdown of a relationship. Overwhelming feelings follow, and the unprecedented feeling of loss can sometimes trigger a return to past, addictive behavior.

Understanding the grieving process and the stages a person has to go through, allows room for self compassion, which is critical when recovery from a multitude of issues. Knowledge is in fact power.  

Grief Recovery


Hope and Health  Through Creative Grieving .. website with an amazing amount of information 

Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in her book, On Death and Dying (1969), outlined the phases of grieving as follow:

  1. Denial – We try to dismiss the brutal reality. It’s just a natural defense system that helps us to ease the first wave of emotional pain. It’s accompanied by feelings of shock, numbness and disbelief.

  2. Anger – We try to blame something or someone for the situation. This can also include feeling guilty and blaming ourselves for the situation. Guilt is a very powerful feeling that can lead to relapse.

  3. Bargaining – We think “what if” or “If I only” in order to postpone the inevitable or to try and regain what we’ve lost. Bargaining unfortunately keeps us away from the present and locks us down in the past.

  4. Depression – We might worry about tangible and practical things, like how we will deal with reality, bills, family and friends. And then there is the personal sadness and heartbreak we experience when losing someone we love and care for. It is the feeling of emptiness; a time of loss, grief and pain.

  5. Acceptance – Do not mistake this with agreement. This is the last phase of the grieving process, sometimes indicated by a person acting withdrawn, but also very calm. This is not a period of happiness, far from it; this is the time when a person accepts the reality and slowly adapts to the new life, and starts preparing to move on.

  6. Grief can be one of the major triggers of a relapse. What can you do to help yourself go through this painful process without jeopardizing your recovery?

The ABC tool is one of the tools that can resource the individual to clearly think about their feelings, and help with preventative ways to stop reverting back to addictive behavior. 


What helps as well is the presence of someone else. Not someone who will just say, “It’s all going to be o.k.,” “You will get through this,” etc. Those words, even if said through the best intentions, will only make the grieving person feel worse – rather than understood.  Sometimes even a silent presence is better than million words.

If the feeling of loss is overwhelming, it can help to speak to a counselor or seek medical help. We have to remember that, just like there are many roads to recovery, there are also many types of grief, and we all deal with it differently. One thing for sure, though, it’s important that we allow ourselves to grieve, and it’s important that we have the chance to talk openly about our pain. 


References on Grief


The 5 Stages of Grief: Sobriety Edition

By Beth Leipholtz

GRIEF LOSS RECOVERY – Hope and Health  Through Creative Grieving .. 

We present in our website a variety of creative mourning techniques; talking, writing, creating art, music or poetry, or memorializing are all good ways to express your bereavement.

Explore our site to find the expressive techniques that feel “just right” for you. is an Internet community of persons dealing with grief, death, and major loss. 50 e-mail grief support groups and two web sites.


Our integrated approach to on-line grief support provides help to people working through loss and grief issues of many kinds.


Click this link: Adult Support Groups to join one of our adults email grief support groups.

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