Grapevine Online Exclusive

Published December 2011.

Web Exclusive: Not Drowning Our Sorrows

A woman shares her experience of grieving the loss of loved ones in sobriety

In October of 2004, I had nine years and nine months sober and wouldn't have given you a plug nickel that I would see ten. My fiancé, who had 31 years sober, had just died of a massive heart attack at our apartment. He had woken with pain in his upper shoulders and back but refused at first to let me take him to the doctor. When I finished my pre-work shower, he called out to admit that yes, he probably did need to see the doctor and at that point I called 911. Thirty minutes later, while taking him down the stairs on the gurney, Bob's heart stopped—and my world came crashing down around me.

I was no stranger to death and loss. My first son had died in 1973 before he was a year old after being ill from birth. I had been drinking alcoholically for several years already before Danny died but I used the excuse of grief to justify its continuance. When my second son was killed in a bicycle accident one morning on his way to school in 1988 I simply climbed even deeper into the vodka bottle. I knew how to handle grief drunk; I had never had to do it sober and wasn't sure I could.

-- Sandy L.

San Mateo, California

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