Book Reviews by Group Members
After Suicide Loss: Coping With Your Grief
by Bob Baugher, Ph.D. & Jack Jordan, Ph.D.
Review by Laurie Nelson, 4/12/18
I wish this little book, a 67-page guideline for dealing with suicide, could be handed out to everyone who is dealing with a suicide in the family. The first part of the book is invaluable for those who have just lost a loved one, but how many of us are likely to find such a book at that difficult time?
Although it’s a good one to suggest to someone who has just lost a family member, this book can also be very helpful to those who are farther along in their grief process. And it is also helpful for those who want to help a friend or family member cope with suicide loss. One section lists what to say or not to say to someone who has lost a loved one by suicide.
Here are some of the topics covered:
Dealing w/the media
Deciding what to tell people about the death
Checklist to prepare for the funeral or memorial service
Description of normal reactions to suicide--non-judgmental
Dealing with advice to “get over it”
What to do if grief becomes overwhelming
Healthy coping behaviors
Helping children deal with grief and guilt
VERY IMPORTANT - Deciding what to keep and dealing with other people’s reactions to your decisions.
Read this book for its excellent content, no matter where you or someone you know is in the grief process.
There is also a 2nd edition that has been updated and expanded to more than twice the length of this one.
Goodnight Mr. Vincent van Gogh
by Lindsay Doolittle, illustrated by those who have lost a loved one to suicide.
Published by FH Books, Kansas City
Review by: Desiree Woodland Albuquerque, New Mexico. author of I Still Believe
Author Lindsay Doolittle, an elementary school art teacher lost her husband to suicide. She wanted to find a way to explain suicide to her young students. Goodnight Mr. Vincent van Gogh is the result. It is a unique way to begin the conversation with children. As a teacher also, I have not found many books that can create a safe place for children to learn about this sensitive topic.
The story is engaging and does not feel contrived. Opal Louise is struggling with anger and this affects her friendships, her school, and her home life. Underneath the anger is a great sadness she feels after the death of her uncle. Her mother gently leads her to understand that underneath suicide there is an illness called depression. Using a picture book of art, the mother finds Van Gogh’s Starry Night to talk about his sadness. Van Gogh’s story allows Opal Louise to make the connection to her uncle. The mother continues the conversation and tells Opal that people who have depression don’t think the same way and the sadness caused them to take their own life.
Several important points are made in the book that will help children deal with a suicide death. When they feel sad, they may feel that they might take their life too. The mother in the book reassures Opal that that is not the case. The second point is that suicide is no one’s fault. This is so important for young children to understand because they sometimes feel that it is their fault. This book will open the conversation to any feelings of responsibility. I recommend this book for survivors of suicide support group libraries as well as school social workers and counselors.