Self-help Books: Do They Really Help With Loss?

Today, I started reading this book called Overcoming Grief by Sue Morris. Right before the first chapter, the author posts a friendly “Note of Caution” (excerpts quoted) that I think everyone — from the depressed to family and friends of a depressed person — should take into consideration:

“Grief is a difficult topic, so reading a self-help book about the subject can be challenging.”  Indeed, my every flip of a page was punctuated with a heavy sigh—and I was only reading the Preface. I wasn’t sad, no. But my body, subconsciously maybe, seemed to be bracing itself against the words describing my life since January.

“Irrespective of when your loved one died, Overcoming Grief may stir up strong emotions. It is important that you don’t force yourself to deal with issues about their death before you are ready.” I know there will be pages that would make me feel this is too much. When this happens, I hope I’d have reached a stage wherein I’ll be able to put the book down, take a deep breath and not break down. It is so easy to go from “feeling sad” to having a complete meltdown in just a matter of seconds. Not minutes, but seconds. Before you know it, you’ve spent your “brand new day” buried ‘neath the sheets and crying yourself to sleep. At 10 in the morning. I’m no expert, but if that happens to you just because of a line in a book, then you are most likely NOT READY to read about death, loss, or overcoming either.

Overcoming Grief, Sue Morris“Self-help books can never replace professional help if that is what is needed.” But we don’t really know WHEN we need to go to a shrink, right? Good thing Morris listed down the warning signs that indicate you may need to go see a doctor, a grief counsellor or a clinical psychologist. Seriously consider it if you experience the following consistently for more than a week of two:

  • Feeling as though you have been ‘stuck’ for some time;
  • Feeling increasingly depressed;
  • Feeling hopeless about your future;
  • Thinking about suicide or not being here anymore;
  • Thinking that life isn’t worth living;
  • Making plans about how you could commit suicide;
  • Withdrawing from friends and family;
  • Experiencing marked disturbances in your sleep or appetite;
  • Feeling panicky, anxious or agitated;
  • Ruminating over the same thoughts or worries;
  • Having great difficulty carrying out your day-to-day activities;
  • Avoiding people or places that remind you of your loved one;
  • Having difficulty going to work, university or school;
  • Relying heavily on alcohol or other substances.

I have experienced all these until recently except two: I’ve felt misery, rage and numbness, but I’ve never been panicky, anxious or agitated. So thanks, I guess. I’ve also succeeded in suppressing the urge to drink my misery away or for just one night of dreamless sleep. I did it once and it was sooo good, I never repeated it again.

Honestly, while I’ve done all but two of the above, it took me nine months to admit to somebody that maybe I should go see a head doctor. That maybe drugs and talking to a “non-partisan”listener would help control and eventually eliminate the rage, the misery, and—this is the worst—the apathy.

But the truth is, getting genuine medical help in Singapore can be costly. I am waiting to see if I STILL NEED to talk to a professional by the time I’m in Manila next month. Sort of a Christmas gift to myself. :p  #HelpYourself

In the meantime, I AM TRYING to see if I could read a self-help book IF ONLY to remind myself that I am not the only one who goes under when you lose a loved one. AND. To keep reminding myself that I WILL GET TO “BETTER”. Eventually.

In a month or two, maybe I’ll be able to tell you if self-help books actually help IN MY CASE.  :) In the meantime, Morris advises us all:

“A self-help book about grief might not provide enough support for some people. Coming to terms with the death of a loved one is hard work both emotionally and physically, and

THERE IS NOTHING SHAMEFUL ABOUT SEEKING PROFESSIONAL HELP.”

Photo credits: http://www.griefhealingblog.com/2010/02/grief-bibliography.html (Featured). http://www.amazon.co.uk (Book Cover).

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One thought on “Self-help Books: Do They Really Help With Loss?”

  1. The Healing Circles Grief Recovery and SUpport is a 12 year old group that supports those who have lost loved ones…we have five therapists in the group but most important is the loving compassion by others who have been through a similar experience. 09175876120

    Liked by 1 person

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