Published On: June 2, 2023932 words4.8 min read


Grief is a powerful and complex emotion that can be challenging to navigate, especially for those who have chosen a path of sobriety. When faced with the loss of a loved one or any significant loss, the desire to reach for a drink may resurface as a familiar coping mechanism. Choosing to confront grief in sobriety, however, provides an opportunity for profound healing and personal growth. Yes, sobriety offers a path of healing and growth, but it requires adapting to new coping mechanisms.


Adapting to Sobriety during Grief

  • Embracing Feelings: In sobriety, it is crucial to allow ourselves to fully experience and process your emotions, including grief. Instead of numbing the pain, learn to sit with it, acknowledging the depth of your loss. When grieving, it is important to recognize and honour the range of emotions that arise. Allow yourself to feel the pain, sadness, anger, or confusion that accompanies grief. Remember that these feelings are natural and part of the healing process. By acknowledging and validating your emotions, you can begin to address them directly instead of using alcohol as a temporary escape.
  • Honouring the Process: Grief is a nonlinear journey, and in sobriety, it is essential to have patience and compassion for yourself as you navigate the waves of emotions. Each person’s healing process is unique, and it is important to honour your own pace.
  • Seeking Support: Connecting with others who understand the challenges of sobriety and grieving can provide comfort, guidance, and a sense of belonging. One of the most significant aspects of sobriety is building a strong support network. When grieving, it is crucial to reach out to your support system, whether it includes friends, family, or fellow sober individuals. Share your feelings and experiences openly, allowing others to provide comfort, empathy, and understanding. Support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or grief-specific groups, can also offer valuable guidance and a safe space for expressing your emotions.
  • Finding Healthy Coping Mechanisms: Discovering new ways to cope with grief is crucial in sobriety. Engaging in activities like therapy, journaling, meditation, exercise, or creative outlets can provide solace and aid in the healing process.

Coping with grief in sobriety can be an arduous journey, but it is also an opportunity for personal growth and transformation. By embracing our feelings, seeking support, and finding healthy coping mechanisms, we can navigate the complexities of grief while remaining steadfast in our commitment to sobriety, finding solace and strength along the way.

Self-Care and Self-Compassion During Grief in Sobriety

Prioritizing self-care is essential during times of grief. Taking care of our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being helps build resilience and provides a foundation for healing. In sobriety, it is essential to develop and practice healthy coping mechanisms to replace the use of alcohol. When facing grief, explore alternative ways to manage your emotions and find solace:

  1. Self-Care Practices: Engage in activities that promote self-care and self-compassion. This may include practising mindfulness and meditation, engaging in regular exercise, pursuing hobbies, or indulging in creative outlets such as writing or art.
  2. Counselling or Therapy: Consider seeking professional help to navigate the complex emotions of grief. A therapist can provide guidance, support, and tools for coping with loss in a healthy and constructive manner.
  3. Supportive Literature: Reading books or articles on grief and sobriety can provide valuable insights and perspectives. It can help you understand your emotions better and provide guidance on navigating the grieving process without resorting to alcohol.
  4. Journaling: Write down your thoughts, feelings, and memories related to the loss. Journaling can serve as a therapeutic outlet for expressing your emotions and processing your grief.
  5. Engage in Meaningful Rituals: Create rituals or practices that honor and commemorate your loved one. This may include lighting a candle, visiting a special place, or engaging in a meaningful activity that symbolizes your connection to them.



Grieving takes time, and the healing process is different for everyone. In fact, the grieving never goes away. It is important to practice patience and self-compassion during this journey. Allow yourself to grieve at your own pace and be gentle with yourself as you navigate the ups and downs. Remember that healing is not linear, and there may be setbacks along the way. By approaching yourself with kindness and understanding, you can maintain your sobriety while giving yourself the space to heal.

Grief is a deeply personal and transformative experience and navigating it without alcohol can be challenging but immensely rewarding. By acknowledging and validating your emotions, seeking support, embracing healthy coping mechanisms, and practising patience and self-compassion, you can cope with grief in sobriety with resilience and strength. Remember, sobriety offers a path of healing and growth, allowing you to honour your emotions authentically and emerge stronger on the other side of grief.

This article is dedicated to Janet Gourand and her dear friend, Eusebius Mckaiser. The best thing that Eusebius taught me, and I never met him in the flesh, sadly, was this lesson:

Sobriety is challenging. You cannot ignore your anxieties. You are too sober. You can only ignore it by finding new distractions – other addictions like excessive exercising or emotional eating or other drugs or even technology addiction, or sex addiction… Don’t waste your sobriety by substituting alcohol. Sit with and through your anxieties and if you lack the tools to do so, seek help. Therapy is underrated. Getting drunk isn’t therapy. It is simply avoidance.

He had many wise words to share, always with a sense of humour. Let us honour this dear man today.



Image is from News24, with thanks.

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