Losing my sister to addiction

Hi All

I lost my sister a few weeks ago. It’s a pain I am feeling that I have never had before :disappointed:. My sister was a functioning alcoholic. She was clean for a couple of years and then her personal life became very messy and challenging. I had tried to support her as much as possible but at times it was challenging.

When I found out she was drinking again I really tried my hardest to stop her. I believed her when she said she wasn’t drinking. Over the years she had done so much damage to her liver it was so dangerous. I just feel so guilty I didn’t do enough. It was difficult as if you knew her you really wouldn’t have known it wasn’t always east to spot. She was the most kindest loveliest person she just struggled. I’m devastated she isn’t here and really beating myself up that I should have done more.

Weeks before she passed I was struggling sleepless nights and I had an anxiety I’d never experienced. For my own mental health I did take a step back as I was getting ill. She did have a lot of support from
Friends and family it wasn’t all down to me. Now I wish I could have all those crazy texts that I struggled with as now I receive none and never will again. Really sorry for rambling just feel helpless and so sad. Addiction is such a cruel disease x


I am so sorry for the loss of your Sister.she is now at peace.l attend AA & have been sober for many years.& l know first hand the devestation Alcoholism causes.its an illness & with the best will in the World.nobody can stop an Alcoholic from drinking.it just cant be done.sounds like to be you were a fantastic sister to her & did the best you could.so you have nothing to feel guilty about.remember you are grieving & need to take care & be kind to yourself.love & light to you xx


Thank you so much for being so open and for your kind words. It really means the world thank you xx

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Hi Giles1980,
I am so sorry for your loss.
It brings many mixed emotions. I lost my fiancé in February to alcoholism. He too was a functioning alcoholic and the inquest concluded he fell down the stairs and died of acute alcohol intoxication.
I and his family didn’t know he was drinking again. I thought he’d been dry for 2 years. discovered he’d definitely been drinking 6 months before!

At the end of the day in my understanding functioning alcoholics don’t really admit to themselves the extent of the problem as they are able to function. If they are lying and minimising to themselves, we are not going to make significant changes. It is an illness and they are responsible for their actions. You are not! You can’t blame yourself. It’s a completely normal part of grief to ask the what ifs and I should / could have done more.

I felt so bad for not realising and not doing more but now I have given myself permission to say “I did what I could”
He needed professional help and didn’t access it. He thought he could do it by himself.
I’ll never know a lot of the answers to my questions and beating myself up is not going to change anything.

I’m still angry at him when I think about it but I’m more angry at alcohol for robbing his future and our friendship, relationship, and marriage.

You loved your sister and I’m sure you did what you could.
Maybe Be kind to yourself and forgive yourself and forgive her for what happened. We think we can save people but unless they are at the point of acknowledging the real need for help we can only love and support. You did this.

I’m sure your sister knew you loved her.
Sorry rambled on!!!

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I am so so sorry to hear what you have gone through yourself :disappointed:. Big hugs.

It really is so hard isn’t it. It’s such a cruel disease and causes so much heartache. I do totally believe as a functioning alcoholic my sister was totally unaware of any heartache she was causing. She worked full time, looked after a home etc and it felt like we were the problem. She was even at work happy enough I believe the day before she passed. I was quite hard with her at times when I knew she was lying and now the guilt is eating away at me. I never thought it would ever come to this. She did have a lot on and she did find life hard going through a messy divorce.

Thank you for your lovely reply it really does help hearing others that have gone through the same thing. I know I need to be kind to myself. I guess it’s just so raw right now. I wish I could have done more I’ve just got to learn that she needed to want it herself. Maybe I wanted it more than she did. Again thank you I really appreciate you taking the time out for me xx

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You are welcome.
It’s nice to talk to someone who gets it and has had similar circumstances.
It was actually good to be honest as I feel I don’t admit the cause of death to everyone as somehow I’m ashamed of it.
Does that make sense?
I know on one level I have nothing to be ashamed of But there is a stigma to it.
We didn’t live together but I feel that somehow it reflects on me. I feel naive that I believed him and took his word the times I challenged it.
So I guess I’m still working it through!!!
It is a nasty destructive disease.

Feel free to keep in touch if it helps.


I get it totally :blush: For me I’m the same with regards to telling people. I almost feel I’m doing my sister a disservice by telling people. I feel she told who she wanted to when she was here and I respect that. I’m not embarrassed by it but like you say there is a stigma. She was such a caring person and I don’t want to tar peoples memories of her If that makes any kind of sense I don’t know.

Please don’t feel naive. When my sister nearly died 5 years ago my family and I had no idea until the doctor told us. I knew she enjoyed a drink but I didn’t know she was dependent on it. Since then I caught her out a few times but I’m sure it wasn’t everytime. It’s just so cruel and hard to understand not sure I ever will :disappointed:. Days before my sister passed I actually thought she was getting everything together really well.

I feel so guilty I couldn’t help her but we all try our best. Would be lovely to keep in touch like you it’s nice to speak to someone that understands. Keep smiling xx

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Thanks for the kind words.
I hope you’ll be able to let go of the guilt.
Everyone says I’m doing really well but I know I need to talk to someone impartial about the alcohol and not feeling like I did enough.
I’m waiting for a counselling appt with a bereavement counsellor.
Took 5 months to do the assessment so maybe next year?!
Take care

Oh no! That’s so long to wait for an assessment :disappointed:. I really hope that your appointment comes through quickly.

Glad I came across this community it’s a lovely non judgmental place to be honest how you’re feeling.

It’s been great to chat to you as not everyone understands the frustration and anxiety that comes with any addiction.

DM me anytime you need a natter or a vent and take care xx

Same for you. Message me.

How are you doing this week?


Felt really up and down this week. I did think I was having a better day today. Then tonight I just broke. All normal I guess and it’s early days.

I was thinking of you earlier I was looking at the counselling resources on here. I think you can get 6 via zoom. I can’t just yet as it has to be over 2 months. You may have already seen it but thought I’d mention it.

Hope you’re doing ok? Thank you for messaging xx

Sorry you’ve not been so good. Grief is strange. You can be ok and think I’m doing ok then suddenly you are crying again. Sometimes you know the trigger and sometimes it’s just there!
It is still really early days. The first few weeks I was just in shock and numb but then weeping uncontrollably.
Thanks for thinking of the counselling. I’m ok to hang on.
I can’t remember if I said but one of my friends is a lecturer on loss and grief so she has met for coffee every few weeks. She doesn’t do a counselling session but I can talk about it with her.

I’m also planning to do the Grief Course in September but apparently it’s usually people in their 70s who have lost a spouse.
Hope tomorrow goes a bit better for you but be gentle on yourself! X

Thank you for your message you’ve made me feel I’m not going totally bonkers! It is exactly that ok one minute and a mess the next.

It’s really good though you have a friend like that to talk too. Sometimes you just need someone slightly out of it if that makes sense.

My friends are really lovely I just think they feel helpless and don’t know what to say. Everyone says with time it gets better so I have to believe that :blush:

It’s good you’re doing the grief course. I’m sure you’ll get lots of positives out of it. I’m going to have a look at what things there are to do to help.

Keeping myself busy today and I’m going to try and have a better day. Hope you have a lovely day speak soon xx

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I lost my Husband 7 weeks ago, he died from cirrhosis of the liver he was a chronic alcoholic. I am truly sorry for your loss, it is so complicated but a disease. I believe my Husband thought he controlled it, but he didn’t. The journey has been a long one, separation from him, hospitalisations, emotional abuse, but threw it all I loved him and we had 2 children together, now adult. I had been caring for Him for the last 3 years, but I couldn’t or didn’t stop it, I enabled it because then I didn’t get emotionally abused. I was advised through this forum to seek help with al-anon charity of which I’ve done and am finding it comforting. I wasn’t prepared for his death, at times I’m overwhelmed with grief and can’t stop crying but I’m attempting to compartmentalise. I accept I need help now to slowly learn to live alongside the loss of which I’m doing and have found solace in joining this forum as talking about my grief is helping me to cope going forward

Hi I am so so sorry for your very sad loss. It really is such a complicated disease and so hard to overcome. My sister always said I didn’t understand and I don’t think I ever did.

Please never feel bad with regards to enabling. I didn’t with my sister and at times she had tough love from me. The outcome was still the same which is why I say never feel bad. I felt for a while I was accepting the reality but deep down I never thought it would come to this. My sister nearly lost her life a few times before this, she had two teenagers that she absolutely adored and nothing stopped what happened.

It really is so hard and I know it’s early days but sometimes I feel like it’s never going to get easier. I adore my sister and wish this was all a bad dream :disappointed:.

You should be so proud for looking after your husband how you did. My sisters husband left her and was so cruel to her which really didn’t help the outcome. Not everyone sticks with people when they are struggling but you did and that’s amazing.

I really hope everything gets better for you too - here for you if you need anything xx

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Firstly thank you for sharing, it certainly is positive to talk and to hear about other people’s experience of Alcoholism in their family it just helps so much, because in life it just seemed so complex

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I feel the same really been beating myself up at times and you hear other peoples experiences and it really helps talking to people in the same/similar situation x

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I’m so sorry for your loss.
I think alcohol addiction brings a whole other set of emotions and questions.
It wasn’t your facilitating him that causes his death. It was his addiction. You are not responsible. You made the difficult choice to stay and look after him despite the emotional abuse.
I did ring alAnon once but have found here more helpful.

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Your message to me means a lot and I’m beginning to fully understand that I didn’t cause his death. I totally agree that death from addiction leaves many questions unanswered and I admit I certainly need help going forward. I remain emotional some days others are a little better, think I’m still getting to grips and am a little shocked (if that is the word) still that he’s gone because of addiction. He was read the ‘riot act’ on several occasions by the Hospital after he had been admitted, but by then I feel any strength physical and mental had disappeared and I believe his mental reasoning causing depression, anger, anxiety was truly at work. ( I’m not sure only guesswork) all these issues running around inside my head still. Thank you

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My shock still comes and goes 6 months on. My fiancé died of acute alcohol intoxication and falling down the stairs.a It was a complete shock to me as I thought he’d been sober 2 years. I’ll never know. Apparently he’d told his dr 6 months earlier he was drinking again but that I didn’t know.
I was so angry he hid it all from me but I think he was trying to protect me and didn’t want to loose me.

I think in my case , the grief and pain are mixed with relief that I may have dodged a bullet. I feel so guilty about feeling that. If we’d got married and lived together all the time, would he have been able to not drink? I would have probably been living with a functional alcoholic. But I miss him so so much.