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The loss of two loved ones from alcohol abuse

May 13, 2017

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Surviving and Thriving After the Loss of a Spouse

April 13, 2017

By Dr. Neill Neill
Survival Guide. <a href="

“I would like to see an article for women who have lost an alcoholic husband, which was caused by excessive drinking over many years. I am struggling with guilt and “what ifs”. My husband died… and I am so saddened, even though there were times I wished him dead.”

This article is for all women who have lost, or anticipate losing, a husband… With loss comes grief. You grieve after the loss whether the death was through natural causes, an accident or suicide. You grieve whether he was a good mate, an alcoholic or a narcissistic abuser. His death was still a loss.

We all know the usual symptoms following loss: sadness and low spirits, low-energy, weepiness, sleep disturbance, wanting to be alone while at the same time suffering loneliness, an empty feeling, forgetfulness, and yes, feelings of regret and guilt.

There’s no right or wrong way to grieve, except that trying to avoid grieving only serves to prolong the process. Over the next year or two remembering his life replaces dwelling on his death. Social contact replaces isolation. Good self-care replaces self neglect. Crying spells become less frequent and sleep becomes more peaceful.

Why is grief sometimes more intense and disturbing when the deceased husband was an alcoholic?

In long-term alcoholic marriages the identities of the two people often become enmeshed. This can happen without alcohol, of course, but it is more common when one person is an alcoholic. As the man became addicted to alcohol, his wife became addicted to his care and protection. She covered for him. She rescued him. She may have even lied for him. She kept his secret. In short, the relationship became extremely codependent as she merged her identity with his.

When two people with separate identities are in a loving marriage, and one of them dies, of course there is the pain of loss. But the survivor still maintains her identity as a person. This helps her go through the grieving process in a healthy way and come out the other side intact.

When the woman has merged her identity with her husband who then dies, it is as if part of herself has died. She has to go through, not only all the pain of loss of her husband, but also the pain of loss of part of herself. She will have the struggle of rebuilding her own identity. She will have to figure out who she is.

In the bad times she had wished him dead. Now that he is dead, she feels guilt over actions she took or didn’t take that might have contributed to his death. In spite of her attempts to help him, he had chosen to continue on a path towards an early death. He was in the process of committing suicide… and succeeded.

The life task is the same for anyone who was lost a spouse, although there may be more work when the husband was an alcoholic. The life task is to emerge from the grieving process as an independent person with an intact identity.

For anyone who has lost a loved one, get rid of any regrets early in the grieving process, with or without help. Regret can keep you locked in the past.

Words for Support

March 29, 2017


“Faith is what gets you started. Hope is what keeps you going. Live is what brings you to the end.”
Mother Angelia

Loving an alcoholic is not enough

March 26, 2017

NB Book Festival

Look at me with all my books on alcohol addiction from living the actual life with two alcoholics and losing both. Who can give stronger advice than the one who lived through the pain?

It’s so true with the survivors asking, “What if, I should have, I could have, why didn’t I. The list can go on, because I’ve tried to answer all of them.

We seem to think that loving a substance abuser is enough to have a loved one stop their addiction. If only it had been that easy.

We have to understand that the addicted has to want the habit to stop more than life. How? Who really knows. Maybe a family member can pull them through the darkness, a professional, another addict, a stranger.

I’ve tried the most important one to me, which was turning to God with prayer. Yes, I lost both after years of rosaries, novenas and just opening up my heart to Him. God, for His own reason, wanted them. He gives us a loved one and takes them back. Hopefully, we will come to learn why when we meet again.

For now, I try my best with book signings at festivals, talks in private to the addicts or in public to reach the hearts of another addict or a family member suffering along watching their loved one slowly killing themselves.

I think support is needed for both the substance abuse and the family member. My husband, Richie, tried for two months alone with a counselor and two with me in the private meetings. He walked away thinking he still had no problem, because his friends were all drinking.

Richie died at forty-five years of age at the VA Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island. I had a small breakdown trying to keep the family together and becoming mentally exhausted trying to figure out how, I alone, could get him to stop his drinking.

Lori refused from the age of 37 until her death at 39 at the Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, Massachusetts to allow her sister and I into her meetings with a counselor to help her. A heavy load for me to carry.

Death of a loved one is not something you tell someone to get over. The pain will always be there seeing a certain friend of theirs, a location you went to together or the raw moments with holidays looking at that empty seat.

My peace comes from God. Why? Because He made us from love and wants us to be happy. God doesn’t hate, never wants us to suffer. He looks down at us with our hearts torn out from a loss and tries to comfort.

This is not easy for me to say; it tears me apart to even write this statement. Richie and Lori had choices. They alone had to want to give that life up. I will die believing that all alcoholics, drug users, and prescription users, have deep rooted problems that happened to them and the incident was too painful to not only handle, but were too embarrassed to talk about the hurt with family or counselors.

For now, I pray they are both at peace, buried together, at the St. Patrick Cemetery in Somerset, Massachusetts. There will always be that empty gap in my heart.

Alberta Sequeira

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Excerpt from the sequel Please, God, Not Two

March 26, 2017

Please, God, Not Two

Please, God, Not Two is a sequel to Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round: An Alcoholic Family in Crisis.

Here is an excerpt:

Lori came out of her bedroom; her condition was worse than I could ever have imagined. This happens to other people, not my daughter, I thought as she walked toward us. She was in her pajamas and sat at the kitchen table. There wasn’t a part of her body that wasn’t shaking. Her lips were quivering and her hands were trembling so much that she sat on them trying to control the shaking. I wanted to break down crying.
I remembered back to the time when Richie had knocked on my backdoor in the early morning hours in the same condition. He swore that he was having a breakdown. My daughter was in the same state.
Seeing her in this terrible condition made the reality of losing Lori hit me like a ton of bricks; she had been staying home, alone, and so sick.
I assumed that Lori would wait until Joe and Meagan went to school and then go back to bed. None of the family knew what she did. The kids never talked about the situation with their mother; not even a word about her drinking. We think Lori drank when they left the house.
Debbie started the conversation. “Lori, we think you should go into Butler Hospital. Paula went there and said it’s the best place to go.” Debbie’s eyes filled with tears at seeing her sister in such awful physical shape.
I couldn’t get my eyes off my precious daughter. It was the hardest thing in the world to sit there and watch Lori suffering. There wasn’t anything that any of us could do, but try to give her support.
“I don’t know,” Lori answered weakly. The muscles in her face and eyes were actually jumping.
Al looked at her. “Honey, you can’t stay like this. You need help.”
Lori loved Al, and he felt the same toward her.
“I’d rather go back to Gosnold Rehab in Falmouth.”
Al continued, “We can try to get you into Gosnold, but it’s further away. Get your things together, and we’ll take you to Debbie’s. We’ll make the call and see how soon they can take you. We don’t even know if they’ll take you today.”
“I’ll pick the kids up here when they get home from school,” Brian volunteered.
Debbie went with Lori to her bedroom to collect some clothes. Lori could hardly keep her balance, she was shaking so badly. After seeing her, I knew that she hadn’t eaten anything substantial for days or maybe months.
How were the kids eating with no paycheck coming in? I had thought that Mark was still giving her support money.
Gosnold had no beds available, and Butler Hospital couldn’t get a bed for her until the next afternoon. There were so many people suffering from drug and alcohol abuse that the beds filled up as fast as they emptied. Lori and her kids stayed at Debbie’s, and after a few hours, Al and I returned home.
The next afternoon Al, Debbie, and I took Lori to Butler Hospital. It was a forty-five minute ride, and I sat in the back seat with Lori. All the way there she continued to sit on her trembling hands while her lips quivered.
My God, this disease is killing her, I thought, as I watched my daughter falling apart.
We reached East Providence, Rhode Island and drove along the beautiful grounds of Butler Hospital. The long road in was winding and thickly landscaped with vibrant azalea bushes and different colored, budding trees and plants on the side of the road going up to the parking lot. The old, red, brick building looked cold to me. I felt myself becoming nauseous, thinking how frightened Lori had to be. This was a strange place to her.
“I don’t want to go here.”
“We know, Lori, but Gosnold doesn’t have a bed, and you need help now,” Al said when he took her overnight bag out of the car.
I think back and hate myself for not showing her the same affection and support that Al and Debbie were giving her. I wasn’t strong and became an emotional mess. If I said one word, I knew that I’d lose the control and would not be able to hold back my tears. The sight of her in such bad health made the throbbing that was constricting my throat feel like it was choking me. Lori didn’t need me coming apart, so I stayed silent. I didn’t think at that moment that my holding back emotionally probably came across to her as being cold and uncaring.

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Getting out of Denial

March 23, 2017


“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes…including you.”
Anne Lamott, writer

Family losing the Addicted

January 2, 2017

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Alberta Sequeira

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