Bereavement: self-help books

Finding a Way through When Someone Close has Died
Authors Pat Mood & Lesley Whittaker, 2001.

'An interactive book written for children who have lost a loved one. It encourages them to articulate their thoughts and feelings'. 

Review: This book is aimed at children who have had someone they love die. Written by children, it encourages others to express their thoughts and feelings through words and drawings. The book is easy to read. It does not have a patronising tone. A particularly important point is made that "nothing anyone thinks or says can make someone die". Other children discuss their emotions and how they coped with death. The book contains several exercises that allow children to anticipate bad dreams, worries, anger and later on, their memories and support systems. It finishes off by suggesting that they put a picture of their loved one at the end of the book.

Helping Children Cope With the Loss Of A Loved One
Author William C. Kroen, 1996.

'An astutely written book about how children of varying ages deal with the death of a loved one and how to support them'.

Review: This is a sensitively written book about death and how children deal with it. It explains what children understand about the concept of death at different stages of life. The author provides guidance on dealing with death and how to speak to children about it. Case histories highlight the big variation in children's responses and behaviours. It also explains what normal grief is and what it is not. Children's literature dealing with death is recommended in the index, giving more tools with which to help them. The book is short, concise, easy to read and helpful at all stages.


An Introduction to Coping with Grief
Author Sue Morris, 2010

'A clear practical book on recognising and coping with grief. Excellent. Guides you in a positive way through the process of grief. Instils courage'. 

Suitable for Carers
This is a clearly written short book. It is divided into two sections. The first section defines grief. It normalises grief and teaches you what to expect when grieving. It explains the wave-like pattern of a grief reaction and what triggers these waves. It covers the reaction of others, be they helpful or unhelpful. It also explains what can help you through your grieving process giving tips in boxes to emphasise the points made. Part two 'Coping With Grief' helps you tell your story in a structured way. The examples help you with your grief diary. It stresses the importance of establishing a routine, compartmentalising your worries, taking time to grieve, tackling barriers such as anger, guilt, resentment, avoidance and dealing with first anniversaries. Finally, you are helped to build a new path by making connections, creating a positive support system, trying new things and asking for professional help if needed.

The Courage to Grieve
Author Judy Tatelbaum, 1980

'Down-to-earth examination of the emotional and practical effects of being widowed. Shows the possibility of building a new life'.

Review: This book is a comprehensive approach to grieving. It is written in five parts, each exploring all an aspect of grief in depth and with openness. It stresses the importance of expressing your grief regardless of social norms which can block this expression. This book affirms that recovery is possible. Finishing grief lies in acknowledging our true feelings, integrating our loss and reinvesting in our lives. We are then free to remember and to love without pain, sorrow or regret. In part 5, removing the mystery from death and dying, being able to discuss death in a positive way and by removing the fear we can be better prepared for our own death.

Living With Loss
Author Liz McNeill Taylor, 2008

'Described as a survival handbook for the widowed, this is an honest and down-to-earth examination of the emotional and practical effects of bereavement and loss'.

Review: The book is based largely on the author's own experiences following the loss of her husband. She discusses her own progression from grief and despair to anger and then to adjustment, and describes how she learned to enjoy life again. Issues such as money, sex and raising a family alone are covered. This book aims to show how a person can come to terms with loss and build a new life by making the most of the many organisations and resources which help the bereaved. While this book might be recommended to someone who has lost their husband, it would be much less helpful to those who have suffered the loss of other family members or friends. It does not address the special issues pertinent to those who have lost a child or those who have lost a friend by suicide.

Overcoming Grief
Author Sue Morris, 2008

'Positive and empowering. Helpful exercises to help you process grief'.

Review: This book presents a positive, empowering, hopeful, caring and encouraging approach to overcoming grief. It recognises that grieving is part of a process of adjustment that cannot be hurried and is unique to each individual. Through Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) it encourages you to participate and acknowledge thoughts and feelings and regain control over your life. You are encouraged to act, even if you don't like it and use the many exercises provided in the book to help and guide you. There is a helpful concept of a grief journal and how to get it started. It helps provide a framework for challenging unhelpful thoughts, making difficult decisions and tackling avoidances which can slow the grieving process. The last 8 chapters address difficult conversations with both adults and children and how to maintain connections by keeping a memory book of the deceased. It identifies how to plan and manage first anniversaries. Some might find the entire organisation too much but it can be carried out at your own pace. The final chapter - Your New Path - helps you to project beyond your grief to the future and how to be a support to others who are bereaved.