Grief and Loss

Everyone experiences loss at some point in their lives. However, individuals recovering from substance misuse have a higher risk of experiencing grief and loss.

According to Frontiers in Psychology, “[P]eople with substance use disorders (SUD) often report personal losses in their life histories that make recovery difficult, and are more vulnerable to report complications in bereavement after the loss of a significant individual.” Avery Lane offers grief and loss therapy alongside other evidence-based treatments to help clients recovering from SUD and co-occurring conditions.

Grief and Loss

How Does Untreated Grief and Loss Impact Mental Health?

Many events may trigger grief. People often associate grief with the death of a loved one. However, grief occurs whenever something important is lost. Divorce, the loss of a job, or having to give up a life-long dream can affect people dramatically. Even smaller events trigger less intense feelings of grief. Grief is a healthy part of coping with any form of loss. Most people move through the grieving process and achieve a resolution naturally.

Unaddressed grief affects mental health by doing the following:

  • Increasing stress levels and worsening mental health symptoms
  • Reducing feelings of safety
  • Increasing self-isolating behaviors and feelings of loneliness
  • Causing emotional destabilization

In some cases, the grieving process is interrupted. Sometimes, people cannot grieve due to family, personal, or professional demands. For example, someone dealing with the loss of a parent may be forced to focus more on practical matters, such as arranging care for the other parent or wrapping up other end-of-life issues. Grieving gets put on the back burner while more immediate needs are met.

Grief Affects Physical Health

People going through a loss often experience psychosomatic symptoms of their grief. Studies have shown that “Reactions to loss are called grief reactions and vary from person to person and within the same person over time. Grief reactions lead to complex somatic and psychological symptoms.” Therapy and other forms of psychological support reduce the symptoms of acute or complicated grief.

Some common somatic and psychological effects of grief include:

  • Tightness, discomfort, or pain in the chest
  • Difficulty taking full breathes
  • Nausea, vomiting, or other forms of abdominal distress
  • Unusual exhaustion or lethargy
  • Muscle weakness
  • Numbness or tingling of extremities

Physical reactions to loss vary significantly depending on whether a person has effective coping skills or not. Some people experience profound physical reactions to grief, while others may notice only mild discomfort. Every person reacts differently to loss and emotional distress. The care team at Avery Lane uses trauma-informed care and therapy to help clients come to terms with their grief.

Common Forms of Grief and Loss People Struggle to Process

Women recovering from substance misuse have a higher risk of experiencing the loss of friends and loved ones due to the effects of substance misuse.

Some of the most common forms of loss people experience during recovery include:

  • Death of loved ones, friends, or acquaintances
  • Loss of a job or financial stability
  • Divorce or romantic separation from a partner
  • Death of a beloved pet
  • Experiencing a natural disaster (e.g., losing a home to a tornado)

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “Grief is the normal response of sorrow, heartache, and confusion that comes from losing someone or something important to you.” In addition, “Grief can . . . be a common human response after a disaster or other traumatic event.” Women in treatment use therapy and other support services to process grief in a healthy way.

How Avery Lane Helps Women Thrive in Recovery After Loss

There is no right or wrong way to grieve. However, grief may increase the risk of relapse for some people in recovery. Treatment should simultaneously address the impact of loss and symptoms of SUD to reduce the risk of relapse. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), “With time, most people find they are able to come to terms with their loss.”

Avery Lane offers the following treatment services to women in recovery:

  • Energy psychology
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and other forms of psychotherapy
  • Psychiatric support
  • Prescription medications to manage severe symptoms, including anxiety and depression
  • Case management

The care team takes into consideration all factors affecting a client’s recovery, including changes in their personal life leading to loss or grief. Clients who have experienced a loss can heal using the evidence-based and alternative therapies provided at Avery Lane.

Moving Forward After Experiencing Grief and Loss

Finding ways to move forward in recovery after experiencing a significant loss is easier with the support of peers and a compassionate care team. Some people need time to mourn what they have lost, while others choose to focus all their energy on recovering from SUD and building a healthier life. The care team works with each person where they are today and ensures all clients have access to the resources and support they need to move forward in their recovery journey.

Grief and loss have a profound effect on a person’s ability to cope with everyday stressors during early recovery. Symptoms of SUD may also increase the impact of loss and cause some people to experience more severe grief. The care team collaborates with clients to create a truly personalized care plan that takes into consideration all factors affecting a person’s ability to heal.

The treatment programs at Avery Lane provide women in recovery with compassion and support during moments of loss. Clinicians guide women through the process of building healthy support systems and coping skills. To learn more about our programs and services, call our office today at (800) 270-2406.

Contact Avery Lane Admissions Today

Summer Lan Franco
MA, MFT-t, Primary Therapist

Summer Lan Franco loves working with people to facilitate recovery from substance use disorders, disordered eating, mental health issues and complex trauma. She earned her BS in Nutrition and Food Science from California State University Chico and MS in Counseling Psychology from Dominican University of California. She has worked in community-based and private practice settings. Her approach is personable and sincere. Summer believes in helping people rediscover their true selves by uncovering barriers that stand in the way. Her warmth and earnest interest in others’ wellbeing are always present in the work she does with people seeking help. She has experience with trauma recovery, substance abuse recovery, codependency, family issues, disordered eating, treatment for anxiety and depression, and working with personality disorders.

Alaina Dunér
Office Manager, Sound Healing Group Facilitator, Reiki Master

Alaina Dunér is a Sonoma County native. She studied sociology and outdoor adventure programming for two years at Loyola University of New Orleans and Warren Wilson College. In 2016 Alaina was on a recreational skydive and had a crash landing that resulted in her fracturing multiple vertebrae in her spine. Since her accident, Alaina has emersed herself in understanding the nuances and complexities of health and spirituality. She is passionate about supporting clients through Reiki and Sound. Since taking a pause from university, Alaina has become a certified Reiki Master Teacher in the Tibetan Usui system, an Ayurvedic yoga instructor, a health coach from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, and a trauma informed sound facilitator. At the end of 2022 Alaina will attend Southern Utah University to complete her bachelor’s in aerospace and aviation with an emphasis on rotary flight.

Sunnie Skillman
Energy Worker

Sunnie has worked within the field of Energy Psychology for over 20 years and has been trained in a number of healing modalities, including EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and Access Consciousness. She has been using the tools of Access Consciousness for 23 years, teaching classes and working with clients using various hands-on energy body work techniques. She specializes working with clients who have symptoms of PTSD and assisting in clearing where trauma is stored in the body.
Sunnie brings her personal experience with trauma healing as well as her kind and
caring energy to support the ladies interested in working with other healing modalities
at Avery Lane.

Nicole Collins,
AMFT, Primary Therapist

Nicole Collins entered the field of healing after receiving her BA from Colorado State University
in Human Services, which led her to work in domestic violence. Following her beliefs and
passion in the body-mind-spirit connection and the Intelligence of the Self-healing power, she
got her MS from Touro University in Vallejo. She believes that addiction, alcoholism,
depression, the things that push against your joy, calm, serenity, and sense of security, are
powerful and baffling. Still, there is something unique inside of you that is ready to push back
against it all. The fear, anxiety, depression, and trauma that press against your head and chest
are real, but they should not define you. She feels her role is to help you find the resources
within to overcome the challenges and suffering that life may bring. She specializes in trauma,
substance abuse, LGBTQIA+ community, matters of belonging, helping individuals heal in their
relationships within themselves. In your work together, she will meet you where you are and
support you in reacquainting you, with all parts of yourself, including your inherent wisdom.

Erin Miller, RADT
Recovery Counselor

Erin is a Registered Alcohol Drug Technician, Certified Recovery Coach, and Certified Clinical
Trauma Specialist-A (Trauma and Addiction). She is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in
Psychology and Addiction Studies at Aspen University. Through her personal experience with
alcohol addiction and recovery, Erin was inspired to support others on their recovery journeys.
She brings kindness, compassion, and encouragement to her work at Avery Lane. Erin lives in
Sonoma County with her husband and their two adventurous children.

Laurel LeMohn
Recovery Counselor

is a Mendocino County native. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Sonoma State University in 2014 and is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Dominican University. She has been a Recovery Counselor at Avery Lane since October, 2021, and works from a trauma-informed, psychodynamic, and humanistic lens. She has had a desire towards helping others since she was young and looks forward to working with you as you transition your life into one where you are thriving and proud to be living.