SANCA Wedge Gardens substance use disorder treatment centre commemorated International Overdose Day on 31 August.
“Working and being with people who suffer from substance use disorder exposes us to a variety of feelings – some of hope and celebration.
“Sadly, we all too often see the dark side of the disease – when some people accidentally or intentionally commit suicide,” says SANCA Wedge Gardens’ manager Adèl Grobbelaar.
Adèl was speaking at a function held at the rehab centre to commemorate those who were in such a deep, dark place that taking their own lives was the only solution they saw at the time.
Death usually moves us to powerful feelings of grief and a great sense of loss, but with suicide, people can also struggle with anger, guilt and confusion. Some of the initial feelings of grief after a suicide may include anger, shock, confusion, numbness and disbelief that they didn’t have a chance to say goodbye. Guilt usually emerges because people blame themselves for not seeing the direct or indirect warning signs, said Adèl.
“A person’s life usually reflects two dates – their date of birth and date of death. People should strive to do all they can between these two dates because life is short. The best way to change and enjoy your life is by starting today. Make every moment count. Today we are going to let go of all the negative feelings around grief that prevent us from moving forward and living life to the fullest,” said Adèl.
She explained that grieving must include letting go.
“This is the only way forward. Letting go doesn’t mean we don’t love and miss the people who have left our lives. There is still room for cherished memories, keepsakes and regrets. Loss is a part of life. It is part of what gives life meaning.
“Letting go is the process of freeing yourself from obsessive thoughts and unhappy feelings. When you let go, you allow yourself to relax in the moment. Emotions, such as peace and happiness are then more accessible. When you let go, your body relaxes and becomes healthier. Deep, dark, obsessive grief on the other hand creates a strong physical tightening in your body,” said Adèl.
She added that when a person doesn’t let go, hope dies forever.
“Letting go means finding out who you are without the person you have lost. It means allowing yourself to fall in love again. It means forgiving your best friend and perhaps finding a better one.
“Letting go is hard because it means that you need to free yourself from some aspects of your past. Things that have become a part of yourself – of what makes you who you are today. Most people understand this as getting rid of that ‘something’ that would change who they are. This can be scary because it means making changes,” said Adèl.
Don’t pretend loved ones were never part of your life, but move forward with your own life to honour them and care for yourself, she added.
Following her talk, SANCA Wedge Gardens’ patients took part in a mental exercise – blowing up balloons and blowing bubbles – to help them breathe deeply and blow away the negativity that causes despair and feelings of hopelessness.
The patients then looked up and let go of their balloons.
“We always look up to our higher power as it brings on positive feelings. After letting go of their balloons, our patients then imagined themselves being left behind with feelings of anticipation for the new person they can become and the circumstances that can improve their lives moving forward,” said Adèl.
For more information about SANCA Wedge Gardens, visit www.wedgegardens.co.za