Grief Doesn’t Have To Feel Lonely – March 2020

Grief Doesn’t Have To Feel Lonely

When a loved one passes away, whether it was expected or sudden, you may immediately feel a thousand emotions or nothing at all. No two people grieve the same way. And those who haven’t lost a loved one may not know what to say. According to the Center for Loss and Life Transition website, “… grief is what you feel on the inside [and] mourning is what you do when you express your grief on the outside. Crying is mourning. Attending the funeral is mourning. Talking to others about the death is mourning….”

If you’ve lost someone due to alcohol or drug use, your grief will have many complex layers to it and may not be fully understood by those who are lucky enough not to have experienced addiction. Because alcoholism and drug use cause significant negative effects on a loved one’s behavior, thought process, appearance, and lifestyle, many families typically start grieving their loved one long before he/she passes away as they helplessly watch these brutal changes occur. Some people may find a sense of relief after a loss because they are no longer living in the chaos of addiction and they know their loved one is no longer fighting it. Family members are often judged and the one who struggled with addiction is often shamed; the stigma of addiction is rampant in our society, and this can add to the heavy and exhausting feelings you are carrying.

Oftentimes, people will support you immediately after your loss: they will attend the funeral, check in on you, make you dinner, offer to watch your children, or otherwise help you through a couple of weeks after. But then they go back to their lives while your life has now taken a new turn. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, in her 1969 book called ‘On Death and Dying’, Swiss-American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross described five stages of grief:

  • Denial – the loss is new and does not make sense. You may be numb or in shock.

  • Anger – you may feel angry at the person who died and/or you may lash out at family members or friends. You may feel irritated, frustrated, and overwhelmed.

  • Bargaining – you want to control by trying to find out what you could have/should have done; the “What Ifs” begin; you make promises to a higher power in exchange for relief from your hurt.

  • Depression – your attention moves into the present. You may feel empty and/or alone; you may withdraw from social situations and you may stop enjoying your hobbies.

  • Acceptance – this stage is typically confused with “getting over” your loss, but instead it’s forming a new normal for your life; you will have to re-adjust your thoughts and roles, without your loved one. You will learn to move forward and take one day at a time.

However scientifically-based these stages are, the reality is that you will experience these, along with multiple other emotions and thoughts, several times a day in any random order. There is no correct sequence in which to go through these.

When you are grieving, you may feel lonely, but you are not alone. It is important that you find support, whether it’s going to a therapist or grief support group, or researching about grief. It’s equally as important that you find healthy ways to take care of yourself, such as exercising, meditating, or taking up a new hobby. Talking with a friend or doing things in honor of your loved one are also positive steps in moving through grief. Be patient with yourself and remember that grief has no timeline, despite what others may think. Trying to ignore your pain or pretend that you are okay is not beneficial and can harm you in the long run. As uncomfortable as it is, you must face the emotions when they come in order to move forward.

If you have experienced a loss, whether recent or years ago, and are looking for support, please consider contacting your local church, doctor’s office/hospital, health insurance company, or health department. And remember that “the pain of grief is just as much a part of life as the joy of love; it is perhaps the price we pay for love…” (Dr. Colin Murray Parkes).

In Loving Memory Of:

Dana Catalfamo
March 7, 1987 – March 7, 2018

My sister Dana was so much more than her addiction and how she passed away. She was a free spirit with a unique sense of style. She was creative and compassionate; she had an interest in making beads with rocks, crystals, and gems, and hoped to be an EMT one day. When she put her mind to it, she had a wonderful talent for writing. She cared about others, probably too much, and wanted to help those who had their own struggles. She used to volunteer at our local humane society many years ago where she adopted her cat.

Dana taught me to never give up on someone. Even when they feel unworthy and when everyone else thinks they are undeserving of love, giving up should never be an option. Dana did not give up on anyone. And we never gave up on her. We loved her hard. We prayed for her all the time. She made me realize that everyone is battling something, and no one is perfect and no one is hopeless. Everyone matters to someone. Behind the struggles is a person like you and like me. A person who has feelings and who is someone’s child, someone’s sister, someone’s family member or someone’s friend.

Written By:

Mia Ellis (Fallston, MD)

Get Involved:

If you are interested in submitting a photo and story of your recovery, or a photo and a story of your lost loved one, please contact Mia Ellis at (Please keep your story between 350 and 450 words. We reserve the right to edit your content for spelling, punctuation, etc.)

Community Resources

​​Ashley Addiction Treatment:

An inpatient treatment center that personalizes clinical programs based on individual need. Located in Havre De Grace, MD. Please visit here or call 800-799-4673 for information about online and in-person meeting services.​

Celebrate Recovery:

A local support group for those with addictive behaviors. Located in Bel Air, MD and Joppa, MD. ​

  • 5:45 pm every Thursday at Mt. Zion Church – 1643 Churchville Road, Bel Air, MD 21015. Contact or visit here for more information about meetings.
  • Mountain Christian Church in Joppa, MD: Please register here to join. *Please check out the updated information regarding meeting details.*
Christian Counselor Directory:

An online database of board certified or state licensed therapists who have a Christian based background. Please visit here to search within your zip code.

GRASP (Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing):

A local support group for those who have lost someone to addiction. (The group meets at 7pm on the 2nd Wednesday of every month at Mt. Zion Church in Bel Air, MD.) Please visit here to ask to join the private national Facebook group. To register for the monthly Harford County, MD chapter support group, please email

    The Klein Family Harford Crisis Center:

    A clinic that provides immediate care for mental health and addiction. Located in Bel Air, MD. Please visit here or call 410-874-0711 for information about online and in-person meeting services.

    Loving An Addict:

    A local support group for family and friends of those in active addiction.  (The group meets every Saturday at 7pm at Mt. Zion Church in Bel Air, MD) Please call 410-836-7444 for more information.

    Psychology Today:

    A national online database of bereavement therapists listed by state. Please visit here to search in your area.

      We serve locally but think globally. For counseling, or for addiction, substance abuse disorder, or mental illness treatment, please contact your area’s health department, county government, hospital, or law enforcement agency.

      Rage Against Addiction Programs

      Daughter’s House:

      Designed to assist women who are transitioning from substance abuse treatment to recovery; includes two sober living houses (Daughter’s House and Sister House) located in the suburbs of Harford County, MD. Click here to visit the Facebook page.

      HALO (How to Live Without Our Addicted Loved One):

      An online grief support group specifically for those that lost loved ones to substance abuse. Click here to ask to join the private Facebook page. *Please read and answer the membership questions prior to joining.

      RAA ABC (After Baby Care):

      Provides post-partum care packages to new mothers in early recovery.

      Rage Club:

      Designed specifically for children affected by addiction to help them process their feelings and learn about the disease by offering counselor-led activities, such as equine and art therapy, nature walks, and more. The group meets several times a year. Click here for more information.

      Rage Against Addiction Team Members

      Wendy Beck Messner

      Founder and Executive Director

      Amanda Buddenbohn

      RAA’S ABC (After Baby Care) Coordinator

      Tara Kuzma

      Chairman of the Board of Directors

      Rachel Bongiorno

      Recovery Coach and Daughter’s House Program Director

      Mia Ellis

      Newsletter Writer and Administrator

      Sarah Hoover

      Rage Club Event Coordinator and Volunteer

      Michael Nesline

      Rage Club Mascot

      March 2020 Newsletter