Teen Challenge Central Canada
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Grief and Addiction

Grief and addiction are close relatives.

Matthew 5:4 God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted (NLT).

Often, there is a direct connection between grief and addiction. A person suffering loss and pain is desperate to move past it or numb the feelings. In their pain, they turn to a superficial method of coping. Before long, they feel like this is the only way to heal.  Of course, we know that substances do exactly the opposite of comforting. 

Many people we meet in our programs and support groups are mourning the loss of a close loved one. Perhaps they have recently had a painful breakup. Or they might be part of a divided family.

These are very real and raw experiences.

How can I help?

So, what can I do when I see that someone is struggling to cope with their grief?

In the Ready Now Recovery training our staff and volunteers take, we learn about the connection between grief and addition

“The first duty of love is to listen” -Paul Tillich

Rev. Bill Niebuhr gives some great principals to live by when you are trying to help someone. He says that “The key is to listen with empathy.”

It’s important to prepare ourselves to help someone who is grieving.

How can I prepare to support healthy grief?

  • Educate myself on the topic.
  • Confront and work through my own grief points. 
  • Approach conversations with empathy, compassion, and patience.
  • Build an environment of trust and safety.
  • Engage in spiritual warfare through prayer and intercession.

Then, we can ask the question: How can I help?

  • Establish the importance of engaging in healthy grief by talking about my losses.
  • Normalize the experience of grief (it’s not weakness).
  • Contrast the world’s way (toxic grief) with God’s way (healthy grief).
  • Emphasize the importance of God’s healing power in the grieving process.

God is close to the broken-hearted

Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the broken-hearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.

Encouraging others to share their grief and addiction stories helps in relieving the difficult emotions associated with grief (like a pressure valve). When a person is giving a piece of his grief story, people can connect and feel a twinship, “There is someone like me.” “I am not alone.” 

Prayer: Lord, show me how I can come alongside someone who is grieving. Give me empathy and wisdom, as I lead them to the God of all comfort.