Grief & Loss In Recovery

People with substance use disorder (SUD) often suffer losses due to their addiction. Consequences of addiction result in many losses: jobs and careers, financial well-being, friendships and relationships (significant others and children), freedom (due to incarceration), self-esteem, health status (HIV, hepatitis C, liver disease) and material possessions. When someone with substance use disorder experiences these losses, they self-medicate…drink or drug to relieve the discomfort and pain their addiction causes.

People who enter recovery also experience loss. The most obvious loss is the person’s number one method of coping: drugs and alcohol. Other losses for those in recovery may include loss of friends (those they used with), loss of venues (may have to drive miles out of the way to avoid bars or dope houses), and loss of leisure and fun time. Some people may not feel it is ever wise to return to the same town where they lived when they were in their addiction as there are too many triggers for relapse. Most recovery programs recommend changing people, places, and things in order to maintain sobriety. These are huge losses. While someone may be joyful in celebrating a sober life, they may also experience conflicting emotions as they grieve the losses associated with their addiction.

People in recovery may also be faced with losses of friends and family who died during the time they were in their addiction. At the time of the loss, people with SUD were using drugs and alcohol and as a result may not have experienced a period of bereavement. Once sober, they have to face the loss as well as the guilt associated with their inattentiveness during this time. As a result, they experience complicated or unresolved grief, a strong risk factor for relapse.

Unresolved grief is the experience of prolonged, intensive grief. While people experience grief differently, unresolved grief is not a “normal” or expected reaction to loss. Anxiety and depression are symptoms of unresolved grief. People who experience unresolved grief should be encouraged to discuss the loss and acknowledge their feelings. There are counselors who specialize in bereavement and can offer assistance in working through a difficult period.

For some residents the feelings of sadness, guilt and anger can be overwhelming. At MSH we work with residents to identify and acknowledge their losses and discuss the grief process. Many of the weekly groups provided to residents introduce new methods of coping: yoga, meditation, journaling, and processing.

When a person makes the decision to embrace a sober life-style there is reason to celebrate but it is also important to recognize the losses one has experienced due to addiction and recovery.

Residents need time to recognize their losses and grieve. While giving up friends and family who supported their substance use or enabled it is a tremendous step in recovery, it is still a loss. If the loss is not addressed the grief may be unresolved and lead to relapse.

Pledge Drive

Have you considered becoming a monthly donor? We are hoping to reach 100 monthly donors by the end of the year. We are currently at 75 and only need 25 more folks to help us reach our goal! Can you help us get to 100 by 2020?

Any amount helps us further our mission of rebuilding the lives of women who have experienced trauma, sexual exploitation, addiction, and incarceration.

$10.00 a month purchases laundry detergent for our residents.
$25.00 a month purchases towels or a comfy blanket for a new resident.
$50.00 a month purchases a week of groceries for a new resident.
$100.00 a month covers a portion of the household’s utilities.
$200.00 a month covers a welcome basket and clothing for a new resident.

Click here and sign up for a monthly gift today! No amount is too small!

Resident Achievements

  • One of our residents celebrated two years clean and sober on August 5th!
  • One of our residents celebrated one year clean and sober on August 7th!
  • One of our residents was able to get her drivers license!
  • One of our newest residents is preparing to move into Phase Two of our program. We are helping her prepare to enter the workforce!
  • One of our residents is planning for a February 2020 graduation. We are so excited!

Senior Resident Success Story

“I have been at Magdalene Serenity House for almost 10 months. Although my journey hasn’t always been the easiest, being at Magdalene, however made it easier. The love and support that one gets while being here is beyond amazing. When I was released from prison in October of 2018 everything was stacked against me. Things like no driver’s license, fines, old warrants, and some huge medical issues. But because I was here at Magdalene I had their love and support along with the grace of God. I now have my driver’s license back, I am paying on all of my fines and they will be fully paid off in a couple months. The warrants are gone, and not just one but both of my medical issues have been completely taken care of. Thank you Magdalene for helping me have a real chance at life after incarceration.”

Intern Spotlight

Erin was born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas. She feels lucky to have studied both at home in Arkansas and abroad in Spain, Mexico, Argentina, and India. Before pursuing her studies in Counseling (Specializing in Psychiatric Rehabilitation) at the University of Arkansas, she worked as an Artist/Designer, Yoga Teacher, and Community Event Coordinator.

Some of the organizations she has worked with in Arkansas include; The Boys and Girls Club, Voices for the Children Left Behind, Our House, Goodwill, Youth Home, UAMS, Planned Parenthood, Ballet Arkansas, Masterpieces for Autism, Pulaski Tech, Hands Along the Nile, and the Arkansas Reparatory Theatre.

She has an intense enthusiasm for the healing powers of therapy, art, yoga, and healthy living. She is excited to join the Magdalene Serenity House team as an intern this Fall and wholeheartedly believes in the mission of the program- that healing one woman will help heal the community.

Volunteer Spotlight

“When I heard about the Magdalene House I wanted to volunteer for a couple of reasons: first of all, you serve women and I am a feminist! But most importantly, I believe in second chances: I’ve had a couple of really significant second chances in my life and they always involved help from others. So in a way, I am paying it forward.”

Ellen Bruce has volunteered with MSH for over a year, providing multiple rides for our residents as well as a great deal of support to the organization. Ellen moved to Fayetteville from Washington D.C. in 2009 and worked at a local non-profit as a Human Resource Director before retiring in 2016. In her spare time Ellen plays bridge, frequents coffee shops, and museums.

Who Wants Tacos?

MSH is excited for a few upcoming events in the community at local restaurants that have offered to extend a percentage of sales to benefit MSH. Mark your calendars and tell your friends. On September 4th from 5-9PM, guests at Tacos 4 Life of Fayetteville who mention Magdalene Serenity House at checkout will help us to secure 20% from each sale!

Don’t forget- Tacos 4 Life donates one meal to a child in need for every meal that is purchased, all of the time. Come with us to enjoy a meal that gives back!