A Message to the Family Member Who Has Lost a Loved One to Addiction

January 14, 2021 Natalie Higgins

As I write this post, I have again been hit by the overwhelming feelings of loss to addiction. I find myself having the same questions each time it consumes another delicate life. Did I do enough? Could I have done more?

I’m here to tell you. You’ve done all you can. You may not feel this way right now, and that is completely natural. By loving someone when they have been at their worst, you’ve done more than enough. Seeing all the good in someone who is suffering at the mercy of their addiction is enough. The reason they fought back for as long as they did was because of your love. They are at peace because you continue to love them every single day.

We all process grief in a different way. It is very much individualized. Therefore, you must always be patient when grieving to make sure you give yourself enough time to process; no matter how long that might take. When we lose someone to addiction, we typically go through several stages in order to fully process grief. We all experience different heights of emotions during each stage and it is natural to go through each stage multiples times. It’s important to know that each stage isn’t experienced in any particular order or for any specific period of time. It all depends on the individual experience. Patience is key.

You May Feel Like It Isn’t Real

It’s completely normal to question the reality of what has happened. You call their voicemail hoping they will pick up only to hear the sound of their voice. You can’t process the realization that you will never hug or speak to them again. Your emotions may be so heightened that your initial reaction is to shut everything off and deny that it actually happened.

You May Feel Angry

We ask ourselves, why me? Why did I have to lose my family member this way? Anger often times is displaced and we may take out our anger on family and friends. We may get so angry that we then feel guilty for our angry behaviors. This can be a vicious cycle.

You May Begin to Bargain

This is our way of trying to regain control in order to deal with feeling helpless about what has happened to our loved one. Living in and around addictive addiction can be chaotic and we feel at a loss for what to do. It makes us feel vulnerable. We might wonder: “If only I had done more or If only I had listened a little more”.

You May Feel Depressed

Let me begin my saying, these feelings are completely normal. Feelings of hopelessness after the loss of a loved one is a natural response. Those empty feelings may feel so deep that you wonder if you will ever recover. Experiencing feelings of depression is one step in the process of grief.

You May Come to Accept It

Acceptance is not saying everything is “fine”. It is a way of saying you accept the reality that your loved one has passed and you are learning to live without their physical presence.


Please share your story with others in order to raise awareness and decrease the stigma of addiction.

If you or you family are suffering from an addiction and need help there are resources available. 

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Natalie Higgins

I have been helping people for over a decade overcome challenges from their past, gain confidence in themselves, and feel more connected to others. We all suffer in various ways, and I feel honored to be able to offer a safe space for my clients to speak freely and openly about the challenges they are facing. My hope is that everyone can achieve the amazing benefits of therapy and find more passion and purpose in life. Learn More
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