When someone close to you dies from drugs or alcohol it can be hard to return to normal life.
What you might be feeling
If you didn’t know how much they were drinking or taking drugs, their death may have come as a huge shock. Even if you were already concerned about them, their death is still likely to be hugely unsettling. You might find yourself feeling shocked, numb or even nothing at all for several weeks.
Guilt and anger
You might feel angry with the person who died for leaving you or not accepting help, or with others for not doing more to help them. At the same time you might feel very guilty for not having helped them while they were still alive.
Stigma and isolation
After someone dies through drugs or alcohol relatives and friends often feel social stigma and isolation. People often tell us they feel judged and that they are not getting the same sympathy they would if the person had died of an illness or in an accident. But you have the right to grieve just like everybody else.
Overwhelmed by legal processes
The legal processes surrounding a death by drugs or alcohol can be complicated and lengthy. You may have had no previous experience of what is going to happen, which can be extremely overwhelming.
If you had a difficult or strained relationship with the person, you may not be sure how you feel now they are dead. You might even be relieved which often leads to struggles with anger or guilt. The important thing is to try not to feel guilty. It’s difficult to watch someone close to you struggle with addiction, it’s okay to feel a complicated mix of emotions after their death.
- Look after yourself – eating as well as you can, and getting enough rest.
- Spend time outside – sometimes just a walk can help.
- Watch out for risky behaviour – it can be tempting to want to feel numb again. But what has happened but using drugs or alcohol can make you feel worse afterwards. Talk to someone if you feel there is a chance you might harm yourself.
More about traumatic death. There is more information on bereavement through drugs and alcohol at www.beadproject.org.uk