Thomas Ellis’ book This Thing Called Grief is a wonderful and digestible book on grief. At only 132 pages, you can get through it in a day if you are inclined.
Ellis is a licensed marriage and family therapist, and the former clinical supervisor and executive director for the Center for Grief, Loss and Transition (St. Paul, MN). The book contains simple and straightforward advice about the grief experience. Topics covered include:
- inherited grief,
- the five dimensions of grief,
- how to observe grief and your responses,
- the taboo nature of grief and death,
- Family (and friendship) changes in the wake of grief,
- holidays and celebrations,
- self-care plans, and
- when to worry about depression.
I found the book incredibly helpful. Ellis affirms that grievers are not going crazy and puts our messy emotional experiences in order. Ellis stresses self-awareness throughout the grief process and affirms the difficulty our culture has in accepting our grief experiences. Grief changes our world and Ellis reassures us that this is normal and unfortunately expected.
Ellis’ approach to self-care is practical and doable. SELF CARE stands for
Simplify and seek support
Establish a place of sanctuary
Let go and embrace a sense of hope
Feel your feelings
Challenge yourself and celebrate with play and humor
Ask for help and acknowledge your reality
Rest and relax
Exercise and eat well.
He suggests grievers make a list of 5 people who are helpful to them and 5 activities that grievers enjoy (things you can engage in when you need a mood boost). These suggestions are simple but they make a difference in moments of overwhelm.
The overall messages I took from Ellis’ book are:
- You can’t go through grief alone, so seek support from good people.
- Self-care is incredibly important to the grief process.
I highly recommend This Thing Called Grief.