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Grieving and alcohol

Losing a loved one is very painful. Very often, alcohol is used to numb the pain or deal with difficult feelings.
When we have to say goodbye. RIP maman.

When I lost my mom, I had to go to the pharmacist with my baby because he was a bit unwell. I was so tired and stressed that I didn’t need much to feel very worried with a minor virus. The nurse working that day at the pharmacy checked him out and we started talking about loss. She said she just lost her mom and started smoking again. I confessed that I was drinking wine most nights during this period mixing tiredness of a small baby and mourning my mom after seeing her going through a quick aggressive brain cancer. The nurse said something like ‘everything is permitted during this period of grief, anything to survive it, that doesn’t count’. That was a blessing that I kept in mind for months even years despite the guilt I felt the day after day when feeling tired and slightly hangover and caring for my beautiful son.

Grieving my mom was the most painful experience I had to go through so far. Grieving and drinking for me has also been very strange experience. I felt that I didn’t drink to numb myself because I already felt deadened somehow. I drank to feel more my pain to keep what was linking me to her in her last days alive: a very intense feeling of pain and sadness. Grief is so complex, and I realised afterwards that I was actually quietening some very complicated feelings that often accompany grief.

I’ve read somewhere that drinking alcohol may perpetuate the grief as well. It may also mask some issues that require time, reflection, and active work to heal. It was part of a very long process. Retroactively, I’ve learnt so much about myself from that grief and also from finally quitting drinking. When I quit, I was able to finally feel all the very confusing emotions, the contradictions, the unresolved, the good, the bad, and farewelling her properly in my heart. When I stopped drinking, I did feel sadness and missed her but I was able to finally grieve and was able to have more closure about this absence, this loss. I wish my mom could have met me how I am now. Happy, more patient, wiser, and proud of everything I’m doing and who I am finally.

Somehow, being a mom to a young child and realising (again) the fragility of life was paramount for me to make changes. I was trying to find an alcohol addiction counsellor who also had been through the same and couldn’t find anyone with those two criteria: alcohol addiction counselling experience and personal lived experience. This led me to this path now: helping anyone feeling trapped with alcohol using my professional and personal experience.


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