Yes, I’m posting about Recovery …Again.
Please note: When talking about recovery from grief, I am not saying that this can or should happen quickly. Read through my blog from the first year! I struggled. I sobbed. I grieved! Read the quote on recovery I posted last month to understand what I mean by recovery from grief. Recovery takes time and work. It will not happen over night. But when you are ready, with God’s help, recovery can happen.
I believe that recovery is a choice.
I believe that we can:
- Choose to recover and take steps towards healing OR
- Choose to stay in our addiction, depression, grief, or whatever — without taking steps towards recovery.
In regards to recovery – I am NOT saying that your grief, addiction, depression or other issue was something you chose in the first place. Not at all.
I know grief was not a choice for me! It was forced on me by a tragic accident. Sometimes we are faced with the need of recovery by no fault or choice of our own. I am saying that we can choose to stay there in our grief, depression, addiction or other issue, wallow in it, cause others pain while we languish in it, and eventually die there.
Or we can begin to take steps towards recovery.
Each person’s recovery journey is unique just as each person’s experiences and issues are unique. Regardless of the issue, the first steps to recovery are the same.
Here are the first three steps of recovery as written in “The Big Book” of AA:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
I am not an alcoholic; however, recovery is not just for alcoholics and addicts. I found myself in need of recovery, so I looked at the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. I have many friends who have been helped out of their addictions, mental health issues and other problems by a 12 Step recovery program. I thought the steps could help me recover from the intense grief that followed the death of my son as well as from other issues in my life.
Regarding my grief, Step One was admitting that I had no power over my son’s death; there was nothing I could do about it. It was done. He was gone. This realization and admission came within moments of hearing the news.
I also came to point where I could admit that grief was not something I controlled; it hits when I least expect it! When grief overwhelmed me, I admitted the second part of Step One: that my life had become unmanageable.
I saw that grief could become overwhelming if I gave in to it completely, making my life unmanageable. Grief could overwhelm me. And it did many times in those first few days, weeks, and months. When grief became overwhelming, I had to admit my condition. I had to admit that I was not managing things well. I was suffering and not functioning. I had to recognize this and admit it. This was fairly easy for me. I knew I needed help to survive this tragedy.
Then I had to choose to take Step Two – believing that a Power greater then me (God) could restore me to sanity.
Or in my case, that only God could restore my broken heart and help me recover from the loss of my son.
I repeat: I came to believe that God could restore me to sanity. In order to be restored to sanity, I had to know I had lost sanity. I was thinking wrong thoughts, not functioning, and in need of recovery. I knew God could help me.
I believed that He could help me recover. I believed that He could heal me in my grief. I believed that I did not have to stay in this pain or allow grief to control my life.
I could not listen to those who say, “it will never get better. You will always feel this way. It will hurt this much until you die.” Or “This is just the way it is. You will sob at wrong moments. You family will just have to deal with it.” Or “It’s okay for you to not function, that’s part of grief. You are now a mom who lost a son, the world will have to accept your new normal behavior.”
I believed that God could and would restore me to sanity if I would let Him. I have watched friends go through the death of a child. Our many friends who had gone through this before us encouraged us, prayed for us, and shared their journey with us. These couples helped me to know that the pain would lessen and I would be able to heal. Step Two was easy for me as I had seen God work in the lives of other bereaved parents.
I then had to take Step Three. I made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God.
I turned my pain and grief over to God. (The God of my understanding is the God of the Bible: the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.) There is freedom in turning it all over to God. In my grief, I was constantly turning things over to God. I was searching the Word and reading and studying and praying. You can, I hope, see my faith in my blog the past 18 months.
Working through these first three steps in recovering from grief happened fairly quickly. The other nine…I am still working through those. And I am working these three in other areas of my life.
Recovery in other areas
I am not only recovering from the death of my son, I am working through other issues as well. I have a number of alcoholics and addicts in my life. Their addictions have affected me in ways I cannot explain. Some are working a great program – going to meetings, working the steps with a sponsor, reading the materials, sponsoring others, etc. – and have been sober for years. Others are not. I work the steps as an “Al-anon” as well as being a bereaved parent. Realizing that I have no control over the choices and addictions of others, and that the issues surrounding addiction had made my life unmanageable, I came to believe that God could restore me to sanity even with Andrew’s death and people I love struggling with addiction and mental illness. I daily made a decision to turn my life and will regarding these issues over to God.
I have a strong faith and have spent years studying the Bible, learning who God is and memorizing scripture. I have a relationship with Christ. I know that God is good, compassionate, gracious, loving and kind. I know He wants to help me, lead me, and care for me.
But turning my will and life over to Him? All of my will? That can be difficult. It will take lots of prayer and making right choices. I seem to want to pick it all up and carry it myself.
I have found that this is a daily challenge for me right now. I have to daily wake up, thank Him for another day on planet earth, and tell Him that I am His today – my life and my will are His and I need Him. I ask Him to lead me, guide me, and show me His will. I ask Him to help me to obey His will for me. This exercise helps me remember the truth. At night I thank Him for another day and ask Him to help me sleep.
I am sure that I will be working through all 12 Steps over the next few (or many) months. I may share some of my journey. I cannot share parts as they involve others whose stories are not mine to tell. Therefore much of my recovery story will be shared as it relates to grief. The steps are the same. My Higher Power is the same. The things I must do to fully recover are the same. Because ultimately recovery is not about what we are recovering from or the other people in our lives. Recovery is about dealing with my own life, my thoughts, my behaviors, my choices, and my issues as well as my mental, physical and spiritual health.
If you find yourself in need of recovery, may I encourage you to visit a 12 Step Program specifically geared toward your issue? It may help.