Grieving for alcohol

One amazing thing about the alcohol free community is that we all have our own stories, journeys and unique perspectives about what has brought us here today.

I never tire of someone sharing their journey with me. I recently met with Carol*.

Carol’s experience was very different to mine, she shared that her support network has been AA. We all have to find the community that meets our needs, this should never be met by judgement.

Carol shared with me that what she wished someone had prepared her for was the grieving process. I was stunned, it had never crossed my mind either.

When a relationship ends, no matter how toxic that relationship may have been, there is always a grieving process that follows.

Grief brings with it a host of complex feelings. These need processing along with the changes in behaviour and the physical symptoms.

I’m not one for belittling the loss of someone or saying there is a direct comparison, however there are certainly similarities that we have to face and feelings that may mimic loss.


The really early stages, where you may feel you need to isolate yourself. This is where self-care is key, you must be kind to yourself.

Pain and Guilt

Why did I waste so much time and money? How could I hurt my loved ones? These negative feelings can be overwhelming, its important to have that community in which you can share without the fear of judgment.

Anger and Bargaining

You may experience anger – anger at how your life has changed, resentment that you can’t drink, anger that you did.

You might try and bargain with yourself – “if I can just stick to 1 or 2, then maybe I can learn to moderate.”

Low mood

The next stage in the grief cycle is low mood. You may or may not face period of this, feeling lonely or isolated, like there is a wall between you and the rest of the world that you perceive as a happy take it or leave it attitude to drinking. (We know this is seldom the case, but these are the stories we tell ourselves). You may feel like your relationships have changed, you have distance in your friendships. Again, it is key to embrace a supportive network, know that you are not alone.

Acceptance and hope

Then, one day, it lifts. You start to feel the glimpse of your new life, the new life promised. You start to experience hope, calm, peace, authentic happiness.

You can notice the shift in your emotions- the overwhelm of losing something so key in your life lessens. You start to work on yourself, feeling energised and a desire to explore your new life- moving forward, understanding what now? What do I want, in this new life I’m building myself.

Then finally, acceptance and hope. Understand the impact of the loss. You have a tool box full of  coping strategies and self-care. You can still feel the sadness and pain that drove the decision to ultimately end your relationship with alcohol, however you accept that you can create a different life- finding happiness in a more sustainable genuine way.

You can reflect on previous times with alcohol, such as birthdays, weddings, holidays and acknowledge that any sadness still associated with those memories. Life will never be the se again, but with the peace inside you that you will create new memories, feel joy and celebration, that aren’t tarnished and will stay with you forever.

Carol* not her real name in order to protect her privacy.

If you are looking for a team to support you through your alcohol free journey, check out our online community.

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