Grieving the Loss of an Eating Disorder

until its done

We experience a loss when we are deprived of or have to go without something that we have had and valued, something that we needed, wanted, or expected. When a person makes the choice for recovery, she will have begun the processing of losing her eating disorder. An eating disorder sufferer may go through stages of grief during the recovery process not unlike those experienced when a losing a close friend or when a loved one dies.

Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior. What do I mean by “conflicting feelings”? Let me explain with an example. When someone with an eating disorder chooses recovery, that person may feel a sense of relief and freedom to regain their life back. At the same time, that person may realize that they may no longer cling to their eating disorder for comfort or security and are fearful of what’s ahead. When sick for a significant period of time a sufferer may question their ability to create a life without their eating disorder. These conflicting feelings, relief and fear, are totally normal responses in the recovery process.

The process of letting go and moving forward in recovery consists of stages — Shock, Suffering, Sadness, Anger, Guilt, Anxiety, and Acceptance.The grieving process is not linear, but cyclical. Often, sufferers and their supporters vacillate between these stages throughout the recovery process.

Grief is normal and natural, but we have been ill prepared to deal with it. This means we often find ways to avoid grieving–perhaps by denying the loss, intellectualizing about it, keeping busy, using drugs or alcohol, being strong for others, and frequent attempts to get the lost object back. When we allow ourselves to feel these painful feelings, and when we share the grief with safe and supportive others, we able to complete our grief work and thus be free of it. Through grieving the loss of an eating disorder, your life is more open, free, and authentic to your recovery.

Recovering from a significant loss is not an easy task. Taking the actions that lead to recovery will require your attention, open-mindedness, willingness, and courage. To have help in this, you can connect with the safe and supportive staff at Inner Door Center® to help you in your grieving and recovery process. Visit or call our office at 248-336-2868 to learn how to have us be part of your recovery team.

Nourish– Cassie


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