Chapter 2: Why your grief may be different
My sister and I were so close, she was just a year older than me. She loved her kids so much and it feels unfair that she’s not here to see them grow up. I try to share stories about her with them so that they remember her and know how much they are loved.
After any death, your grief will be influenced by the relationship you had with the person who died and with the role you had in their life, as well as the role they had in yours. They may have been your spouse, child, sibling, parent, aunt, uncle, cousin, friend, or co-worker.
They may have lived with you and been part of your daily life, or they may have been someone you rarely saw or who lived a great distance from you. You may or may not have known about their substance use. You may have spent a lot of time and energy trying to help them, or you may have distanced yourself from them out of frustration or a belief that your involvement wasn’t helpful.
This resource explores some of the complexities of grieving a substance-related death. Before the person died, you may have already experienced many losses and challenges, which you may be still grieving. Their death can intensify or bring new waves of grief.
The following sections describe some of the reasons your grief may feel different than grief you’ve experienced in the past, such as:
Thoughts and feelings
Lack of understanding
Stigma, isolation, and judgment from others
The way the person died
Your knowledge, or lack of knowledge, about their life and substance use
Relationships with family members and friends
Sense of injustice