Overwhelming Grief From Loss Of Child Can Cause Substance Abuse
When a child is born the lives of parents are changed forever. Their lives become centered around the safety, happiness and success of this new person. Plans are made for their future, and days are spent thinking about soccer practice carpools, piano recitals and college tuition payments.
But what happens when that future tragically disappears? Experts from Brookhaven Retreat, a multidisciplinary treatment facility that helps women overcome emotional trauma and addiction challenges, say that the death of a child is one of the darkest and most traumatic losses imaginable and can lead to substance abuse, particularly in women.
Grief, regardless of how it manifests itself, is a unique personal experience for everyone. Grieving over the loss of a loved one, especially a child, is a normal response. However, there are times when that grief causes a person to become physically or emotionally ill to the extent they are simply unable to cope with their pain, complete the simplest of tasks or heal in a healthy way.
"People experience a wide range of emotions after the loss of a child such as guilt, disbelief, or anger, which can manifest into the inability to eat or sleep," said Jacqueline Dawes, owner and founder of Brookhaven Retreat. "In women, these feelings can be so overwhelming they feel the need to turn to drugs or alcohol to numb the pain."
Dawes founded Brookhaven Retreat after the sad loss of her 18-year-old daughter. Having struggled with the resulting grief and a subsequent divorce from her husband of 25 years, Dawes relocated to east Tennessee with her son. After fully recovering from the emotional breakage she had suffered, Dawes decided to set up a recovery center for other women who have numbed themselves emotionally to simply endure their deep-rooted pain.
Brookhaven Retreat specializes in individual treatment that links women with the appropriate support and healing needed to begin recovery. In treating women who have suffered the loss of a child, Brookhaven has found spiritual counseling to be particularly effective. It is not religious counseling, but has to do with the heart and spirit. This often neglected aspect of a healthy and balanced life is revealed, restored and respected at Brookhaven.
"After the loss of my daughter, I knew I had to create a place to help other strong young women cope with the challenges that they face in life," said Dawes. "Women with undiagnosed and untreated mental health needs are very vulnerable to prescription, drug and alcohol dependency."
Everyone grieves differently, and it is ok to feel the natural emotions that result from a traumatic loss. These emotions become dangerous, however, when they are ignored they can become debilitating. At this point, treatment should be sought.
"The important thing for a mother to remember is that her life will go on," said Dawes. "I learned to live in a way that focuses on celebrating the life of my daughter, not mourning her death."