The Hamilton Spectator

I’m drinking to cope with my wife’s death


Q My wife of 49 years passed away nine months ago. In order to cope with this, I'm having two to three alcoholic drinks per day. I’m now 73 and feel I may only have a few years left. So what does it really matter if it turns out that I spent the last few years of my life avoiding the pain of my loss?

Getting through it

A What matters a lot is that you’re still alive. That also means there’s still time and opportunit­y to honour your late wife and your long sustained marriage.

Luckily, you can also still share your favourite memories as well as an ongoing connection with other family members and longtime friends.

What also matters hugely is whether there are grandkids, since you can still have an important role in their lives as “the patriarch” who can tell the loved and favourite stories about their family’s history.

You’re also the grandpa who’ll remind them of special events in their lives, such as when you and their grandmothe­r babysat and read books to them or travelled with them for a family vacation.

They need you, especially now, to help them accept the new reality and remind them of the love story you likely told them, about when you first met and dated the grandmothe­r they now miss. Grandkids love hearing the stories of their own and their relatives’ past.

Accepting this time of loss is an important step in finding comfort for your sorrow.

I empathize with your pain, but alcohol only blurs the past, whereas staying sober and connecting with people, whether former contacts or new people, sustains the present.

Reconnecti­ng with others also allows for the possibilit­y of new situations, including attending a grief counsellin­g meeting among people who’ve also lost a loved one.

The benefits of getting profession­al help for handling grief offer far more opportunit­ies to live in a healthy “now,” instead of privately downing three alcoholic drinks daily and short-changing yourself from the possibilit­ies of healthy years ahead

Fortunatel­y, there are many positive, healthy and available ways to put alcohol abuse behind you.

The well-known and highly acclaimed organizati­on Alcoholics Anonymous, for example, offers outpatient programs to help treat alcohol abuse. Its programs include individual, group, education and family-based sessions.

There are also many helpful books on sobriety that offer significan­t insights.

I personally witnessed a friend who suffered severe alcoholism wholly commit to ending his addiction after reading one of the popular alcohol-cessation books written by Alan Carr.

I’m truly sorry for your loss. And I urge you to choose the life you still can experience.

Feedback Regarding the man who wants a dog (Jan. 11):

Reader “THEY don’t want a dog. Yet several readers mentioned shelter dogs as options when the wife does not want a dog. They haven’t discussed the day-to-day pet work in their home, nor how they now share responsibi­lities and how they’ll put something in a contract to one another about the care and cost of having a dog.

“Is the wife feeling neglect in their relationsh­ip? Her husband’s already too busy with no time for fun or foreplay/intimacy etc. Adding more daily responsibi­lity will likely undermine the relationsh­ip.

“So, why are dog shelters overflowin­g? Because people don’t make good decisions, nor realistic commitment­s regarding their lifestyle. This often leads to domestic strife and violence, not to mention budget issues.

“Then, pets are left abandoned to the care of taxpayers and strangers. Finding a cute dog or cat, etc., is irresponsi­ble before the couple work out their relationsh­ip issues.”

Ellie’s tip of the day

Don’t hide from grief or replace it with escapism. Get back to living; it’s how we grow wiser.

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