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Bereavement following a drug and/or alcohol-related death has been largely neglected in research and service provision, despite its global prevalence and potentially devastating consequences for those concerned. Whilst researchers have drawn attention to the suffering experienced by families worldwide in coping with a member’s substance misuse, this article highlights the predicament of families bereaved following a substance misuse death. To this end, it reviews literature drawn from addiction and bereavement research that sheds light on this type of loss. The article also considers how general bereavement theory may illuminate bereavement following a substance misuse death. We argue that available frames of reference reflect not only a lack of focus on this type of loss, but also a tendency to reproduce rather than interrogate normative assumptions of bereavement following ‘bad deaths’. The article concludes by considering how findings from existing literature can guide future research.
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