Grief was foreign to me. I had not experienced it as close as I did until my Dad passed away in June 2021. We were planning for a Father’s Day lunch just two days before he had an accident that caused some head injuries. Three days later, we were now planning for his funeral.
At the time of his death, I had just finished my steps 4 & 5 and was working on steps 6&7 with my sponsor. My experience throughout the time of his death is engulfed by gratitude. Grief made me grateful to be an addict because I had tools to help me through the tough journey. I was grateful that I was able to feel and acknowledge the pain, sadness and anger brought by death. I did not block it.
I come from a culture where funerals are more like events. They involve planning, not just by the family, but relatives you didn’t even know existed – colleagues, clergy, friends. It’s a community affair. This can be very overwhelming especially since most funeral arrangements can take a week or two. For almost two weeks my family and I attended evening meetings and had to fake a smile whenever well-meaning people came to pay their respect. In these evening meetings, discussions varied from religious topics to what would be worn on the day of the funeral. This was always a trigger. I could not understand why it was taking so long to bury my Dad and why certain people had a say on the funeral programme. So I found myself doing my step 4 inventory on resentment constantly.
SA helped me to be very aware whenever triggers like anger came up. I prayed the 4th step resentment prayer in addition to other SA prayers. In the heat of anger, some members of my family featured in my inventory. I found it interesting that the step I had initially wanted to get over and done with was the same step I was using to stay sane and help me with my recovery.
More so, I was also able to communicate better as opposed to stuffing my feelings on things I did not want. Having identified poor communication as a defect in step 4, I was armed with a proper tool (asset) especially in that period of my life. For example, I did not feel comfortable viewing the body at the morgue even though it is considered a sign of respect. By God’s strength I was able to express this discomfort and to my surprise my family did not object.
If it wasn’t for SA, I would have had very many angry bouts with my family. I would have said things that I would not have been able to take back and then later I would have had to do amends. So I took it as truth what other fellows have always shared – it works if you work it.
I put in work because I needed to face this foreign feeling without burning bridges. Plus I was aware that if I slacked, I could easily default to my drug. There were days I did not feel like talking to anyone but I made the effort to attend a zoom meeting at least every two days and just listen. Sometimes I did service. I reached out to my sponsor (who is 7 hours behind my time zone) constantly. I did my DSR (daily sobriety renewal) as honestly as possible every day. I reached out to other women and read SA material together with my faith based literature. I prayed daily without fail and surrendered every time something triggering came up. I recited the 3rd and 7th step prayers like my life depended on them. Whenever I felt like crying, I cried, even though there were days I felt my emotions were being a burden.
Eventually, the feeling of grief did not feel foreign. I have not befriended it but I am sort of okay with how it shows up. Sometimes it is ten seconds of holding my breath as the memories flood in, other times it is a sad smile when I see/smell/hear something that has my Dad written on it. I have learned to surrender every single disturbance including memories that can be triggering.
Grief forced me to practice SA as a lifestyle. In some ways, I am glad I experienced grief when I am in the programme. I have serenity, I am not running away from foreign feelings. For that, and how my life is now, I am a very grateful, sober and recovering sex and lust addict.
Kawy, Nairobi, Kenya