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How will I cope?

Everyone grieves differently, and what helps one person might not be right for someone else.

You will have to work the best way for you by finding out what has helped others and accepting as much help as possible.

It can be difficult to suggest things that will help everyone to cope because every person and every bereavement is different.

On this page are some suggestions of things which have helped others who have been bereaved by drugs or alcohol.

Some may be worth trying.

Early days

Practical advice: The practical aspects of coping with a drug or alcohol related bereavement can seem overwhelming at times. Breaking down what you need to do into simple steps can help, see our practicalities section.

Accepting help: Some of us don’t like accepting that we cannot do everything ourselves, but this is not a time to try and cope alone. You should accept as much help as possible from good friends and family. Sometimes people want to help but don’t know what to offer – you could keep a list of things that need doing and refer to it if someone asks “is there anything I can do?”.

Talking: Many people find it helpful to talk about what happened and how they feel. Finding someone you can trust and who will not be judgemental can be difficult after a drug or alcohol related bereavement, but if you can find one or two trusted friends to talk to it can be a great help.

Reality: Attending funerals, returning to the scene and talking to people who know what happened are all ways in which a situation which seems unbelievable may be made more real.

Privacy: Some people want to be left on their own. You must do what is right for you and if you need time alone, ask for it.

As time goes on

Sharing: Sharing with others who have had similar experiences can help. This is important for those of us who are facing a drug or alcohol related bereavement – others who have faced the same situation can be the only people who really understand our experience. 

Support: If you are struggling to cope, then you may need some more in-depth or one-to-one support. 

Expressing yourself: Some people can find it helps to share how they feel in other ways than just talking. Some write about their experiences, or write poetry, or draw. There are also many ways of remembering the person who has died, and perhaps thinking back to happier times before drugs and alcohol became a problem.

Keeping yourself well: Trying to get enough rest (even if you can’t sleep), eating, and exercise can all help. For further information see out wellbeing resources.

Small steps: Sometimes the only thing we can do is to take small steps, and take each day or even hour as it comes. Some of us have found having one small target for the day can help, like buying yourself some flowers.

Helping others: As time goes on some people find they want to share what they have learned, and help others going through similar experiences. Others who have been faced with injustice or treated badly begin to campaign for change, to prevent the same things happening to other families. You shouldn’t feel pressured to take this kind of action, but it has been helpful to some of us. 

You can read more about grief and about how others have coped here.

You can also find out more about practical issues or how to get support.

See also