Don’t Let Frozen Grief Steal Your Joy in Recovery

Frozen grief is not what you may think of as the type of grief that has the same power over you as other types of grief. It’s not even fair to really compare types of grief because they all serve a different purpose and look completely different to each unique individual. Although it goes by many names (partial grief, grief on hold, survivor guilt), the painful reality remains. Find out how you can break free of frozen grief before it steals your joy and peace in recovery.


Grief can be frozen, numbed out by binge eating, drinking, doing drugs, or holding onto other addictions that feed it like a hungry monster. It consumes everything in its path (you) and then takes everything else down with it (your job, relationships, sanity). The body can hold onto grief for years, even decades. If it is not allowed proper release, it gets stuck somewhere in the body until it emerges like an overwhelming darkness. Unspoken loss continues to exert its power and authority of your life, even if you feel too much time has passed for it to be having this much impact. Sometimes, the comfort of other people who understand what you are experiencing can help you relinquish the protection of addiction and embrace new possibilities and supportive relationships.

Grief Defined

Grief is the normal and natural emotional reaction to loss. The symptoms of grief include:

  • Guilt
  • Crying
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

Mourning is the process of sorting out these emotions. We explore and integrate our grief to finally adjust to the loss so we can move forward in our lives. The inner process of letting go is what allows us to live more fully. Mourning is never linear; it ebbs and flows without a distinct beginning, middle, and end. It is like being lost at sea. Everyone’s grief and mourning are personal and unique.

How it Happens

When you struggle with addiction, there are many reasons grief can become ‘frozen;’ mostly it happens because we are told we can handle it if we keep busy, stay strong, and focus on the positive. Grief on hold only becomes more complicated by freezing the heart and numbing feelings. Opening yourself up to pain stinks but so does addiction. Everyone copes differently and there is no shame involved if you struggle with addiction. It is better to name your pain than to avoid it.

Thawing Out Grief

In order to thaw out grief that has gotten stuck, you have to look at patterns in your life. Addiction becomes an ongoing pattern, a way of chronically avoiding pain. The best way to get on the road to recovery and thaw out grief starts with:

  • Talking about it
  • Describing the impact
  • Imagining the loss it had on your life
  • Considering the connection to your loss and your history of addiction or issues
  • Acknowledging the hurt
  • Recognizing unfinished business connected to loss
  • Make peace with the ‘new normal’
  • Integrate with a reitual or create a memorial to honor the loss
  • Cultivate relationships in support group or therapy to share the pain and be uplifted

The biggest question to resolve when it comes to grief is understanding who you are without it. Since you likely carried it so long, it turned into addiction and other issues, you may not know who you are. That is why it helps to have recovery support through detox, rehab, recovery groups, and grief support to help walk you through the pain.

Sound Recovery helps you focus on what you need to heal and get well. We will help guide you through the recovery steps you need to get past what keeps you stuck. Call us at 561-277-3088 to get started.

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