Losing a spouse or significant other is never easy, and it becomes even more confusing when the death was due to substance abuse. If you have children with the deceased, then helping them cope with the loss is yet another challenge you must tackle. While the death of a loved one is never easy, the feelings that come when the death was due to substance abuse add an additional hurdle to recovery. Remember these four important guidelines for dealing with the loss of your loved one and helping your children cope, as well.
1. Reinforce That the Death is No One's Fault
When a person dies of natural causes or an illness, family members left behind are less likely to blame themselves for the death than when someone dies of substance abuse. You may find yourself thinking that you should have taken more steps to help the deceased kick the addiction or blaming yourself for causing stress in the deceased's life that may have led to his or her last indulgence in drugs that was ultimately deadly.
Stop now and realize you had no control over the deceased's choice to abuse drugs and you never did. Their death was solely the result of their own actions, and nothing you could have done would have saved them. As your children grow, if you ever find them blaming themselves or their actions for this tragic loss, remind them of this as well.
2. Realize That Your Emotional Healing Is Just as Important as the Children's
When any death in a family occurs, many people immediately begin focusing so much on helping the children cope and heal from the loss that they forget to help themselves. While this is a natural instinct, and it is of course very important to help the children cope, don't forget that your healing is just as important as theirs.
In fact, you can help the children much more when you learn coping tools that you can then teach them. When seeking professional counseling for your children after your loved one's passing, which is extremely important, don't forget to schedule time to speak to the counselor alone, without the children present. While group family counseling is great, one-on-one time with the counselor will give you time to really speak about how you are feeling without having to hold back from saying things you don't want the children to hear.
There are many online go to sites that you can check out to see how family counselling can help with this tough topic.
3. Find Local Support Groups
While you may think it would be difficult to find others who can relate to your situation, drug abuse deaths currently outnumber auto accident fatalities in the US. That means that finding others in your situation will likely not be as difficult as you think, and you may find a local support group where you can speak to others also dealing with the passing of loved ones due to drugs.
If you don't yet feel you are ready to talk about your feelings to a group of people, then that is completely normal, and you should not be forced to speak before you are ready at one of these groups. You can simply sit back and listen to others share their experiences and the feelings they are dealing with. You may also find a person or two who becomes a great friend that you feel more comfortable talking to one-on-one about your experience.
4. Remember That as Your Children Grow, They Will Continue to Need Support
Your children's counseling sessions will be tailored to their specific ages and what they need to know at that age. If they are very young, the counselor may, and may advise you to, limit going into any specific details of the death they may be too young to comprehend fully. As your children grow, they will likely begin asking more detailed questions that they need answers to.
For this reason, it is important to realize that counseling for your children should not end just a few months after the death, but they will need ongoing counseling throughout childhood and their lives to cope with questions and feelings that may only begin to arise as they become older.
Dealing with the passing of a significant other and parent is never easy. When that death is due to substance abuse, it can lead to additional challenges when grieving. Remember these important tips to recovery for you and your children.Share
30 April 2015
I suffered depression for much of my life, and I lived with it for years before seeking help. I visited a psychiatrist and received an antidepressant prescription along with a referral to a counselor. I filled my prescription, but I put off making an appointment with the counselor. The medication began to help, so I decided that I didn't need to see a counselor after all -- or so I thought at the time. After a couple of months of medication, a close friend of mine died of an illness. I then learned that even though the medication helped my depression, I still had not learned the coping skills I needed to deal with traumatic life experiences. That even motivated me to seek counseling, and it helped me immensely. I created this blog to remind others that medication can help when suffering with depression, but counseling is also extremely important.