The Share

Grief And Recovery

Three clean and sober men who recently lost friends from their sober circles on how their loss effects them.


The recent death of my friend Eric Danko hit me hard and it shifted my program. I realize that I need to be spiritually fit. I’m now doing 30 meetings in 30 days. I’m calling my sponsor every day and I’m reaching out to other alcoholics. I’m also surrounding myself with sober friends. Life happens and the world will throw a curve ball. I hadn’t been to a meeting for about a month. That changed after I found out about Eric. Everyone responds and grieves differently. It can be hard. It’s important for me to be honest and vulnerable with the people who are close to me in order to get closer and maintain a connection. Working in treatment, I’ve seen a lot of people die. It happens often.

—Zack Ament, sober since December 18, 2010.


“I’m 16 years sober. My sponsor David M. is 33 years sober. After you see so many people come and go, you just do your best to move forward. Eventually what happens is, the loss starts catching up to you. I was walking to go to a memorial. I ran into David and I asked, ‘Are you okay?’ I could see that he wasn’t and I wasn’t. We embraced and cried in each other’s arms. He said he hadn’t done that in years…

We’ve had to bury so many of our brothers. I just had a memorial in my backyard this week. How do you get through this grief, when you know more are coming? The only answer that I came up with is that I need to work harder at my program and I need to teach my sponsees to be better with their program. This is an epidemic. We used to lose people like this to AIDS. I’ve noticed more loss in the program recently. I know several of the recent deaths have been heroin related. We just have to be better and reach out and check in with each other… We are all powerfully intuitive. The intuition that pops up and says, ‘Oh I should call that person’—we need to stop what we’re doing and check in, because we don’t know when we’re hugging someone for the last time.”

—Donato Crowley, sober since February 5, 2001.


“My dad died last November, so death is something that’s constantly on my mind. After losing my dad, I’m numb. Being sober for 12 years, I’ve never experienced as many deaths in my close circle as I’ve had this year. I can’t explain why. It’s just been a bad year. I hope this isn’t the new norm… I noticed that I’ve been going to more meetings since my friend Rob died. I feel the need to connect more. I find myself reaching out to people more. When we have deaths in recovery, it makes me more open to those who might be vulnerable. I got two new sponsees the week Rob died. I also noticed after the recent deaths that we are kinder and gentler and have more sincerity behind what we say. The recent deaths have me going to more meetings, I fellowship and I try to be more spiritually strong.”

—Jonathan Bierner, sober since March 28, 2005.