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Beltway Buzz 10/12/12

Handle Grief in a Healthy Way

by Yvonne Ortega
Licensed Professional Counselor
Licensed Substance Abuse Treatment Practitioner

“I got drunk because my mother died,” Georgia told me between sobs. “I can’t help it, Ms. Yvonne.”

“I’m sorry you lost your mother.” Her mother was her best friend and encourager. Georgia had stayed sober for several months and had a good job. “Does your boss know you got drunk again?”

“No, this happened over the weekend.”

Georgia’s boss had told her she could keep her job if she successfully completed treatment and didn’t drink again. Now she sat in my office and admitted she relapsed.

“Grief recovery groups, such as Grief Share, meet weekly to help those who have lost loved ones.”

“What? I’m already in your substance abuse treatment group, and you want me to go to another group?”

I explained that a grief recovery group would help her talk about the loss of her mother and process her pain rather than try to drink it away. It would cost less than her night of drinking.

“Your boss might give you another chance if you talk to him about grief recovery.” After a sip of water I said, “You could tell him you’re dealing with the loss of your mother in a positive way without drinking again.”

Georgia nodded and bit her lower lip.

“You don’t have to be afraid to admit your pain.” I reminded her that Jesus wept when his friend, Lazarus, died, even though Jesus knew he would raise him from the dead.

“Yeah, but I’m not Jesus.” Georgia cried and reached for tissue from her purse. “I can’t raise my mother from the dead.”

We both knew that, but I reminded her that when Jesus returns, “the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16 NIV).

She smiled for the first time and said, “I know I’ll see her again, but I don’t know how to deal with the loss of my mom until then without drinking to numb the pain.”

“You might want to talk to a friend or your pastor about your grief.” I waited a minute and said, “You can journal about how much your mother meant to you and pour out your heart to God in prayer.”

Georgia leaned over the desk and buried her face in her hands. “I don’t know how to pray.” She looked up and said, “Can you give me a quick lesson?”

“The Bible calls God our heavenly Father and our refuge. Talk to him as you would to a friend.”

With raised eyebrows, she said, “It’s that easy?”

I nodded. “You might also want to listen to praise and worship music and read the Psalms for comfort.” 

2 Corinthians 1:3-4: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those who in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

Copyright © by Yvonne Ortega October 10, 2012


Yvonne OrtegaYvonne Ortega is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Substance Abuse Treatment Practitioner, Clinically Certified Domestic Violence Counselor, bilingual speaker, Stonecroft Ministries Regional Speaker Trainer of Virginia, and eleven-year breast cancer survivor. She is the author of Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer (Revell) and a contributing author to The Embrace of a Father (Bethany House) and Transformed (Wine Press). She has also been published in several magazines online and hard copy. Her website is www.yvonneortega.com/. Yvonne hosted a blogtalkradio program on breast cancer, addiction, domestic violence, and other types of trauma at www.blogtalkradio.com/hope-for-the-journey. Archives are available.

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