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Your Loved One is Gone: How to Handle the People Left Behind 

When you lose someone close to you, you feel like the world should stop. Your world has.  

But, everyone else just keeps going. It’s hard to understand how things can keep churning – how people can go about their daily business – when your loved one has died. Many people will say and do incredibly inappropriate things in the wake of your loved one’s passing.  

How are you supposed to deal with their comments and work through your grief at the same time? It’s not easy.

One consolation is predictability. Many people have common responses to the news of an overdose, and you can prepare yourself. You can also prepare yourself for your own emotions. We typically go through similar grieving processes, so you can brace yourself for your own reactions. 

What They’ll Say 

It’s likely you’ll encounter people who say exactly the wrong thing. Some simplydon’t know what to say. Others are too curious for their own good (and yours) and will ask inappropriate questions. You may encounter some who are in shock and can’t or won’t believe the news when you tell them.

Others are caught up in selfish motives and will try to get attention drawn to themselves rather than offer comfort to you. These responses can be frustrating and hurtful, so keep in mind that nearly everyone in your situation encounters them. 

When you do encounter these individuals, try to remember that many are doing the best they can in a situation they don’t understand. If anyone asks questions you aren’t comfortable answering – don’t answer them. While you should find some outlet for your grief and talk to those who will lend a caring ear, you don’t have to continue conversations that aren’t helpful or appropriate. You don’t have to share the details with every nosy person who comes along.  

What They’ll Do 

In addition to asking questions and saying things that make you uncomfortable, people may also do things that you don’t like. In some cases, you can take a proactive approach. As you share the news, tell people not to post information on social media. This is especially important if not all family and friends have been notified yet.  

People may also place expectations on you regarding memorial services and how they think you should grieve. Don’t try to please everyone in these situations. Do what you know is best for you and your immediate family. 

Other people will offer shoulders to cry on, hands to hold and arms to enfold you. They will be the support you need during this difficult time. They will offer words that encourage and empathy that reassures. Keep these people close and allow them to love you through your loss. 

What You’ll Feel 

This last bit can be difficult during your grief. It’s common to get easily irritated or even angry at people after the loss of a loved one. Seeing others enjoying life may stir up rage and make you miss enjoying life with your loved one.

These responses are normal. And it’s ok to take some time alone to work through your feelings. Additionally, support groups and counselors can be good resources to help you through extremely tough times of grief. Recognize your reactions as normal and get the support you need.  

Every week, hundreds of families are affected by the loss of a loved one to addiction. You’re not alone. 


Additional Reading: Kindling and Why It’s Dangerous

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