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Losing a loved one often causes a wide range of emotions, which can sometimes be conflicting and confusing. This section looks at the common emotions experienced by people who have been bereaved through drugs and alcohol, including first-hand accounts.

I can't cope today

The news of a bereavement can be a traumatic and devastating event, and affects people in different ways. Whether the bereavement was sudden or not, it will most likely have come as a big shock. You are probably feeling a mixture of different emotions, and this can be overwhelming. You might feel like your world is spinning out of control, or that it’s come to a complete stop - but there are people and organisations who can help you.

Sudden death

When someone dies a ‘violent or unnatural death’ or a ‘sudden death of which the cause is unknown’, the death has to be reported to the coroner. An inquest must be held to identify the person and answer the questions ‘how, when and where’ the person died, and if there is to be criminal proceedings. Given that drug deaths usually occur from either accidental or purposeful poisoning (overdose), they are often sudden.

Falling in love with an alcoholic and losing him

I met my late boyfriend in July 2006. I was travelling in Canada.  He was a good person with a big heart, kind and funny and I think the only issue was he liked to have a drink, which was not an issue at that time.

After his death I was just in total shock

My dad’s alcohol use got worse through my teens as he moved in with his partner, who herself was/became an alcoholic, and my relationship with him suffered badly. It’s hard to connect meaningfully with someone who is drunk whenever you interact, and he was drunk almost every time we stayed with him while we were in secondary school. On the odd occasion he was sober, I got along with him very well. We had similar senses of humour and enjoyed spending time together. 

More devastating than I could ever have imagined

Our son, Matthew, died in April 2001 from a heroin overdose. He was thirty years old.  He was the middle one of three boys and he had begun experimenting with drugs and alcohol probably in his early teens. His behaviour changed drastically then, but it can be hard to know the difference between "normal" teenage behaviour and drug use. And he was the last child one would imagine to try drugs – he loved sport, had lots of friends, detested people smoking and knew about the dangers.