Grieving someone who isn’t dead (+ using their mental illness / drug addiction as your spiritual gateway)

When someone very close to you has a severe mental illness and or drug problem; after a long time, when you have given up all all hope because it’s too painful to do so, you begin to grieve. Except; you are grieving someone who isn’t dead. You are grieving the person they used to be, that, slowly, you realise; you may never see again. It’s a tormenting human experience, and in my personal experience, it was a spiritual gateway.

My brother began a decent into schizophrenia in his late teens, developed a drink problem and later a drug problem. Trying to get him help was equivalent to climbing Everest in stilettos. Only when it was exceptionally terrible, was there some sort of crisis solving intervention. So, so many people with mental health issues are criminalised when they should be receiving treatment & therapy.

Watching someone you loved from the moment they were born deteriorate into another person altogether, a shadow of their former selves, with lies, deceit, in chaos and pain is a special kind of agony. It’s long. It eats your spirit away. And eventually it’s you, who is a shadow of your former self if you are not careful.
It’s a long slow downward spiral. He became increasingly vulnerable, intimidating and manipulative.

People in this state can do and say the most awful things, that you would never believe they are capable of.
So much so, that you may question your own reality and sanity – the thing is, as they are going down, they drag you with them too. Because you care, because you love them ,and you want more than anything to help them feel good, to get better, to wash, to get a job, to eat properly, to support themselves, to take care of their hygiene, to feel good about themselves, to be safe.

And often, they know that and take full advantage. While there is mental illness, there can also be great ability to wield a web of deceit, that has you caught like a passing fly.
If you catch yourself saying “How could you say such an awful thing!? They are ill!”, then I am certain you have never experienced it. Until that person is ready to admit they have a problem and get help, it’s like pouring water in to a leaky bucket.

Of course many people with severe mental health problems do get help and live wonderful, happy lives! Hooray! <3 But this is not that story I’m afraid. And it needs to be talked about, because too many families, lovers and dear friends are suffering in silence.

I have lost count of the ways we tried to help him. You can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. But I was very desperate to save the horse. When you love someone, you tend to do that. Even to your own detriment.

After a particularly bad episode, our little family was left in shock, and there was very little support system.

Sometimes when terrible things happen, you are afraid to share them. You are afraid of what others may think of you, and of them, the person you love.

We didn’t have answers, only many unanswered questions. Our family relationships were undermined. I questioned my reasoning, my understanding of life, and essentially my trust in life itself.

I was constantly worried about him, and what might happen to him. I was anxious. I cried myself to sleep on too many nights. I became obsessively worried that he was going to kill himself. I was terrified every time the phone rang, because I thought, ok this is it. He’s dead.

I was worried about my mum and how she was/n’t coping. I scanned my brain for things he had said, wondered what was true, what wasn’t, how could I know, had I missed something, could I have done something different, was I too hard on him as a kid, I smacked him upside the head when he stood on my new trainers once I wish I hadn’t have done that.

I was tortured and it wouldn’t stop.

Issues I thought I had put to rest began to resurface. The abuse and sexual assault, I realised, had been worked through to an extent but was still lurking and it all came flooding back; and I was so angry at God, and at life, that I though I hate it, I can’t do it anymore, there’s too much pain in this world – I will just sytep out in front of this taxi and then I won’t feel anymore. I just didn’t want to feel anything anymore.
Luckily I didn’t take that step.

It was a fleeting thought. One the ego often has when it all gets too much and we just want to check out of feeling. You’d be surprised how many people have these fleeting thoughts.

I didn’t want to tell people the details of what was going on because it was too awful. I wasn’t trying to keep secrets, and… it was damn obvious some shit was going down and I was struggling, so I let people know that he was poorly and we were trying to deal it, and I was struggling a bit. A bit – read; I am zombie wandering through life and my heart is shattered and I don’t know if I will ever feel really happy again.

man alone boat

Because harrowing feelings and details go on far longer than people realise. For years, and eventually it gets irritating when people say ‘how’s your brother?’ and look at you expecting some sort of change. But there isn’t one. He isn’t getting better. Then they ask a load of questions, and make a load of suggestions like others do, to which there are very few answers that will help. Sometimes there were undercurrents of  ‘you should do more’, or ‘do different’. And I already felt helpless.

So I stopped talking about it so much. It hadn’t gone away, it’s just a floodgate on a sewer pipe I don’t want to open, or burden them with, because I need a hug (or something to numb my mind), not suggestions.
Sometimes I would just cry in the middle of the street, and I couldn’t stop it. I was just spilling over with sadness. Or in the checkout que. Or when I would see a happy, healthy man his age that looked like him. Or just preparing dinner.

He may get well one day, I truly hope so, but I had to accept that he may not.

I had to accept that I cannot make him better, or see the light, or ever love him enough to get help. 
I had to accept that at times he will push me away, not wish to communicate, and not see how much he is loved.
I had to accept that he has his own soul path, and lessons.
I had to accept that in his head, he is a different person to the boy I grew up with.
I had to grive him while he was alive. Grieve who he was, and accept where he is at now.


For me, this has been a long and the strongest lesson in acceptance I’ve had. I imagine this is the same for watching someone who is terminally ill gradually get weaker, dealing with the sudden loss of a loved one, or coming to terms with your own difficult illness.

There was a period of time when I felt completely isolated, from family & friends. This made me reach for God. This made me fall to my knees and beg to understand why I had had so much pain and confusion in my life.

authentic, vulnerability

This was my spiritual gateway. 


Life had broken me open, and I was never going to be the same again. What I eventually learnt was, I wasn’t supposed to be the same. I had been blown wide open for a reason. To learn acceptance, to learn boundaries and self love, to learn to not base who I am  on what others want me to be, to learn forgiveness, to learn compassion, to strengthen my inner core…

I was smashed open. My illusions were shattered. It was painful. I was going through a rebirth. I was opening up in to a new way of life.

It can be any experience, or pain, that serves as your spiritual gateway. The thing that changes your life for ever. But it does not just have to hurt you, it is your direct route to the most real, raw, authentic you. No mask. No airs. No graces. Just you, blown open, and looking for answers. If you stay diligent, you may not find the answer you thought you should get, but you might find your true self, your true calling, or a true awakening to a spiritual realm of life you would never have discovered if you had not cried for God, so long, so hard and so strong you thought you might die.

You die to the old you, and a new version is born. This version can be powerful and beautiful and purposeful…

If you so choose.

I just wanted to feel good, and happy, and ‘normal’ (pah! good luck with that one!) I wanted to feel loved, and connected and safe. I wanted answers from God.

I started to watch Joel Osteen and Joyce Mayer a lot and they really spoke to my heart. This helped me develop a relationship with Yeshua/Jesus. I had always been spiritual, but I was scared of the word Jesus because so many religious people use his name or teachings as a way to scare, or shame people who don’t act a certain way.

I came to plant medicine and received many deep soul healing from ayahuasca, san pedro, peyote and iboga. This healing is not for everyone, and or me it is unparalleled and I am eternally grateful.

I connected to more loving beings and avatars, Amma, Mary Magdelene…

conscious medicine

His illness shook my foundations, because I had built my house on sand. Of course it would have a profound affect on anyone, but I had a bunch of issues that had not been fully healed. I honour this process for showing me where I am not whole, and where love is not. This is my spiritual gateway – the mirror that this holds up to show me – you need more love here. 

Over time, I started to feel better. My family relationships have moved into a deeper place of compassion. I have let go of trying to save him, and I love him and wish him love. I will do what I can, where I can, but I won’t put my life on hold anymore. I know that I deserve to truly live. I feel I am his ally in this life, and I know we have travelled other lives together. We agreed to be side by side again in this incarnation.

The stress had given me adrenal fatigue. I took supplements and tried to rest.

What had been a side dish to my life – my spirituality – blossomed into the main course. I learned, opened, healed and my healing and psychic gifts blossomed. My devotional heart was strengthening. And if we are spiritual beings having a human experience, I was beginning to realise this. I trust my intuition more. i know that the more I learn, the less I know.. and I still love to learn! 🙂

It’s not that I don’t ever get sad, but it doesn’t take me over now.

My thoughts for your journey:

  • You MUST take care of yourself. If you have lost yourself in this process; come back. You have been given your own life for a reason and that is to live it in divine harmony as the Divine intended. You are not responsible for their path. You can be an ally, but you can not make their decisions. Trying to control them will only bring you pain.
  • It may affect your closest relationships. Be loving and be kind. Everyone deals with things in different ways, but don’t allow others to dump their emotional shit on you. It’s not ok, and you don’t have to accept it.
  • Fighting what is, causes pain. If you can frame this experience as a spiritual gateway, you can ask – if my soul had chosen this (and let’s say it has, because here you are experiencing it) what are the deepest lessons that I could learn? What are the qualities I can learn (or really need now) to cultivate (think forgiveness, letting go of the past, accepting what is, compassion, boundaries, self love, self discovery) that will help me feel better.
  • Get help. You don’t have to go through this on your own. Get a therapist who is trained in this area, who understands how it goes down. Don’t let the doctor just fob you off; and you may have to go private. It’s invaluable to helping you cope.
  • Nourish yourself. Fill yourself up with things and people and places that fill you with love. Get healing, and yoga, and walks in the park. Be gentle with yourself, allow yourself space and time. Allow yourself sadness, but don’t let it take over – you don’t want to end up in the hospital right next to them! Lay off the drugs and alcohol. Don’t lose yourself down a dark hole, k.
  • Laugh as often as you can. You are allowed. I know you think you’re not allowed to enjoy your life while someone you love is unwell, but you are. You are my love. You are allowed to live. Breathe. Be well. Be prosperous. Be a light. Be of service. Be of importance. Be connected. You are allowed to live a glorious life, because your unhappiness will never equate to their getting better. Ever. Be a light to them. Shine & radiate the light of the most high to them, whether or not they see it or accept it.
  • Develop a small spiritual practice to help you connect with life & gratitude for what you have. It will lift you up.

I’m sending you so much love

Jay xx

stay connected