Incomplete Grief: What Do Sex, Drugs and Rock n’ Roll Have to Do with it?

posted in: Grief Recovery 0

In this guest blog I am sharing the wisdom of Grief Recovery Specialist, Allison James, from The Grief Recovery Institute. I hope you find this blog helpful.

Following a break up, or any other major loss, have you noticed a change in your behavior; things like eating or drinking more? These can become distractions you use to avoid grief. The activities you use to “take your mind off of it” are what we call STERBs What is a STERB? STERB stands for Short Term Energy Relieving Behaviors. They are activities you use to distract yourself from painful feelings that follow a major loss. We’ve all heard the stereotype about what women do after a break up:  they eat ice cream, go shopping or find someone new to date.  Those activities are short-term energy relieving behaviors. Most STERB’s are not harmful in themselves.  Let’s use shopping as an example.  There’s nothing wrong with shopping.  But if shopping is used to avoid feelings not only do you avoid dealing with your emotions, but also you could end up with financial problems.  It gets worse when shopping no longer gives you relief and stops working.

Trying to distract from grief

What are common STERBs?

  • Drinking
  • Sleeping
  • Eating
  • Excessive exercise
  • Sex
  • Drugs
  • Gambling
  • Smoking
  • Shopping
  • Video games
  • Workaholism
  • Playing on the Internet
  • Isolation
  • Keeping Busy
How do STERBs work and why do we use them?

STERBs are activities that create the illusion that they are helping you recover from loss.  They distract your attention from sad or painful feelings. And they work! – but only SHORT TERM Eventually they stop working. After I broke up with my first serious boyfriend I was devastated.  I would stay up all night playing poker then sleep all day.  I was exhausted.  The time came when poker stopped working.  It no longer distracted me from the fact that my heart was broken.  I thought if I stopped to think about the break up I’d start crying and never be able to stop.  I took the actions of  The Grief Recovery Method.  Now I can gamble or stay up if I choose to, but I chose to do so for fun, not because I’m trying to avoid heartache.


What’s wrong with using STERBs?

They only work short-term.  There is a difference between short-term and long-term relief.  Incomplete grief has a negative effect on your capacity for happiness. The Grief Recovery Handbook 20th Anniversary expanded Edition uses a great analogy: “…If your yard is full of weeds, you can cut the weeds to give some short-term relief, but they will grow back.  Or you can pull the weeds and eliminate the problem.” Ask yourself; do you want short-term or long-term relief?

Retrieved from

Canadian Grief Recovery Method Specialist, Tammy Adams, loves to problem solve, inspire and motivate others who are ready and committed to change. Tammy has spent over 30 years in the field of education and as a Certified Life and Executive Coach Tammy teaches individuals to challenge and conquer their limiting beliefs and insecurities to create the life of their choosing. As a Grief Recovery Method Specialist Tammy understands that unresolved grief can limit an individual’s capacity for happiness and is gifted at supporting individuals through the pain and isolation cause by an emotional loss, of any kind, to a place of happiness they believed no longer existed. A Tammy client testimonial, “Tammy helped me unpack the baggage and put a smile on my face in the process. It’s a rare quality for someone to fully listen without judgement but yet still steer you in the right direction.”

To learn more about Intuitive Understanding please visit or contact Tammy by email at