When the Alcoholic Dies the guilt and the grief

Old 04-19-2008, 09:28 AM
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When the Alcoholic Dies the guilt and the grief


I'm new to this forum but I hope it can give me some insight and move me towards some peace of mind.

Recently I lost one of my dearest friends, my soulmate really, to drinking. He was only 35 years old and had passed out on his bed with a cigarette in his hand and he died from smoke inhalation during the night. I don't even know where to start really. It was one of the most shattering experiences of my life.

I met him ten years ago in college and his drinking was never really a problem, or at least I never saw it as one in the early years because it was nothing outside of the norm of most of our peers. He was also an insomniac and basically most of his hours during the day were spent between working and going to school. When he didn't have to work any evening shifts, he would drink to knock himself out so that he could "sleep and stop thinking". I believe that was true at the time. In the last three or four years though, his drinking started to get out of control and he eventually lost his job. Of course during that time I know that he had tried to stop because that's when he would suffer from seizures, DTs and other symptoms of withdrawal which he chose to go through by himself.

He didn't want to go to DETOX or in a recovery programme. He went to AA for awhile but he said it was not working for him. He eventually starting working again and lived with me for awhile and during that period he really made a concerted effort not to drink heavily and started to look healthy again. When he moved back out on his own though, the heavy drinking started again where he would knock himself out for weekends and then eventually a week at a time.

Basically though, I can't get past the feeling that I contributed to his drinking and demise. He wasn't my boyfriend in its fullest sense but he wanted to be but I didn't love him like that although we did have several on and off intimiate moments over the years. I know that there was one occassion when he was drinking when he said that talking to me was killing him which really jolted me. Whenever I would talk to him about it after though he would dismiss it and say that he enjoyed talking to me and having me in his life.

I know I was probably a codependent in some ways and maybe an enabler in the sense of helping him with housing and bills but I could not stand to watch someone who I loved so much suffer, especially when I know people took advantage of him when his was drunk and he didn't deserve that. After his binges he said he would stop and believed him and I think he was being sincere at the time but he always went back. I keep thinking what more I could have done to make him want to get help - that maybe I didn't try hard enough or I wasn't emphatic enough with my suggestions or I should've done more reasearch on alternative treatments. That maybe if I had given him areal chance as a boyfriend that he would've had motivation to want to get help and stay sober or maybe he wouldn't have gotten to this point in the first place.

I remember the last time I saw him he look depressed probably from the after effects of drinking and I got upset with him because he didn't remember something he said he would've. He then got up and said he was no good to me and left. I called him and asked him if he was okay and he said yes and I told him to sleep it off and call me in the morning but he knocked himself out that weekend. When I got through to him a few days later I ragged him about his responsibilties and that he needed to go back to work, because I just wanted him to get out of the house and back on track. It seemed that tough love didn't work either

I know they say that the person must want to get help but I just cannot wrap my mind arround the notion that you have to watch someone you love hurt themsleves and all you can do is just sit by and wait until they are ready! Surely there must be a way to get through to those addicted because it seems to be a much mental as it is physical? It is a horrible addiction, probably the worst of them all because society views them as drunkards because teh substance is more socially acceptable.

I loved him so much and he had so much potential and deserved so much and to know that this addiction took control of him (and I don't even know how much he realized) - that I couldn't save him - that This thing was killing him and I couldn't help him , keeps me awake at nights and fills me with such guilt.

Sorry that I have rambled on so long. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 04-19-2008, 10:45 AM
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Welcome TQ,
I believe what your going thru is surviver guilt.
You could do nothing to stop this tragedy,
there is a large plan written out by our HP
We simply don't know what it is. Often times the last conversation
we have with a loved one, suffering from alcoholism is not a pleasant one
please try to forgive your self, you had no idea this would happen.

God Bless, And keep ComingBack.
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Old 04-19-2008, 12:34 PM
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I am very familiar with survivor's guilt, which is what geees just mentioned.

After I left my alcoholic/addict husband to pursue my own recovery, I felt a lot of guilt as he had gone through rehab before me, and he didn't stay clean/sober.

The bottom line is we are just not powerful enough to control someone else's destiny, even if that destiny is death.

The disease of alcoholism kills-it's either jails, institutions, or death in the end.

It was a real eye opener for me last year when my mother sent the obituary for my ex-husband almost a year ago. He was 47 years old.

I just hope that he is finally at peace, and there is not one single thing I could have done or said that was going to keep him from ending up dead.

I am so sorry for your loss. Grieving is a process, so please be gentle with yourself :ghug2
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Old 04-19-2008, 11:45 PM
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I am so sorry for your pain. Know that you could not have prevented his death because he was the only one who could have done that for himself. I know it doesn't get any easier hearing that..but allow yourself the time to grieve. Hugs
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Old 04-20-2008, 12:42 AM
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I can reply to this from both sides of the fence.

I lost my little sister,who was only 26 years old by the way, in 1991 due to alcoholism. She died of cirrohsis of the liver. Her Dr.'s told her that unless she stopped drinking, it would kill her. I think her thoughts, as well as those close to her, was that she was too young, it would never happen to her.

I felt a great deal of guilt when she died. I was the first one who got her high and that she drank with. I thought it was my fault.

I used this guilt as part of the reason that I continued on my downward spiral of addiction. I buried my little sister as a result of this disease however, it was so strong, so controlling and all consuming that I couldn't stop.

I have been clean and sober and in recovery for exactly 1000 days today and I can honestly say that the guilt and shame I felt is gone. I know it was not my fault. Nor is it yours. You seemed to care a great deal for this man, but there is nothing you could have said or done that would have changed the outcome.

I hope you will continue to post and not only share with us how you are doing, but read other threads and posts as well. There is a great deal of love, strength and encouragement here on SR.

Also, many communities have support groups for those who have lost loved ones. Also, Alanon would be of benefit to you as well. It's not on how to help the alcoholic as many think, it's about helping yourself.

God Bless,
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Old 04-20-2008, 04:44 AM
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Your story brought tears to my eyes. My sis is still drinking herself silly and tough love hasnt worked either. You see, the problem is that as long as there is one person who will listen to her and help, nothing changes.
I too dread the day. I can see it coming and god help me if it does. I feel your pain but always remember you have no control over anyone, no matter what they do to themselves. None of it is your fault, you tried. Its such a sad thing this, in fact so horrible to see someone you love hurt themselves so badly. I figure once this has finished maybe, just maybe she will be well enough to make it.
Love to you.
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Old 04-20-2008, 07:30 AM
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Thank you everyone for the kind words and guidance. I was "okay" for the last couple of weeks and I could think about him without crying and I hoped that it was "over". Then the momemts creep up on you again and last night I had dreams of alternative endings. I know it will be difficult and I guess all I can do is pray for that peace of mind that you say will eventually come. There is no Alanon in my country but I guess they have a similar online community up and running so I will check it out.

I will keep you posted. Congratulations on your 1000 days Serenity Queen. I hope and trust that there you will have many more to come; and JustJo, I hope it works out for your sister.
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Old 04-20-2008, 11:27 AM
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I lost my husband and my son to alcohol related accidents and
another son to 26 years in state prison. The survival guilt and
what if's are horrendous. I can tell you the pain and guilt softens with time
although life will never be the same. I am hoping with acceptance
and forgiveness I can make the best of what time I have on this earth for me and my grandchildren.

A wonderful friend just sent me a book "Opening Our Hearts, Transforming
Our Losses" which I recommend.
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