On today’s Facebook Live, we discussed dealing with the grief associated with losing a loved one to a drug overdose. However, we  also extended that to other areas, including those impacted by drug and alcohol addiction who may have also died from suicide, impaired driving, murder, accident, or organ failure.

Each year, tens of thousands die from drug overdoses while thousands more die from related situations. The loved ones left behind must address their grief, which has become even more difficult in the wake of COVID-19.

The Epidemic Before the Pandemic

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were dealing with an epidemic around opioid addiction. Progress was being made, and we hope to return to that advancement toward ending that epidemic when this pandemic ends.

However, even with the focus on COVID-19 pandemic, people are dying from other things like drug and alcohol-related conditions.

Grief During COVID-19

Joining us on our Facebook Live session today was Glen Lord, a longtime friend and colleague in the world of grief counseling. He served with Compassionate Friends and now operates The Grief Toolbox and SADOD, both of which provide support related to grief. He has learned to cope with an incredible amount of loss, including his son dying at the age of 4, his sister, and his father.

Glen and Heidi both acknowledged this is a unique and challenging time for grieving. Now that we are in isolation, those grieving have no distractions and lots of time to think about their grief. There is also no physical support like there had been prior to COVID-19.

As David Kessler noted in his recent Harvard Business Review article, we are all living in a grief event right now with COVID-19. From grieving people who have died from COVID-19 or struggling with grief related to other deaths in our lives or even the loss of events like graduation, prom, sports, weddings, and social gatherings, we all are grieving right now.

Reaching Out For Support

At the same time, there are new opportunities to reach out for support online, with many previously inaccessible support groups now opening up on the Internet to anyone regardless of their location. For example, Compassionate Friends now holds virtual meetings.

With more grief support readily available, including specific online groups on social media sites like Facebook, now is the time to reach out. Other organizations related to suicide and addiction have also expanded their support channels. They are focused on helping those at risk as well as the loved ones involved with those at risk or that have lost loved ones to suicide or addiction.

Don’t Discount Any of Your Grief

With all of us grieving for different reasons, it’s important to remember that just because the grief is not related to your own it doesn’t mean it doesn’t count. If anything, it counts more during such a challenging time period in history. Also, our society has been trained to focus on feeling good. But, that feeling good is often an illusion.

Instead, we need to acknowledge that we are grieving and give ourselves — and others around us — permission to not always feel okay. We can still focus on the positive while remembering those we have lost or addressing the feelings of loss during COVID-19.

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Gloria Horsley

Dr. Gloria Horsley is an internationally known grief expert, psychotherapist, and bereaved parent. She started "Open to Hope" to help the millions in the world with grief. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Clinical Nurse Specialist, and has worked in the field of family therapy for over 20 years. Dr. Horsley hosts the syndicated internet radio show, The Grief Blog which is one of the top ranked shows on Health Voice America. She serves the Compassionate Friends in a number of roles including as a Board of Directors, chapter leader, workshop facilitator, and frequently serves as media spokesperson. Dr. Horsley is often called on to present seminars throughout the country. She has made appearances on numerous television and radio programs including "The Today Show," "Montel Williams," and "Sallie Jessie Raphael." In addition, she has authored a number of articles and written several books including Teen Grief Relief with Dr. Heidi Horlsey, and The In-Law Survival Guide.

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