Saturday, September 15, 2018

Acclaimed writer Claire Bidwell Smith talks about ANXIETY: THE MISSING STAGE OF GRIEF, how to lessen and live with our losses and how anxiety is connected deeply to grieving.

 First just one of the absolute raves:

 "In Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief, Claire Bidwell Smith has found yet another way to powerfully illuminate and deepen our understanding of what it means to grieve. Drawing upon her personal experience with deep loss as well as her many years of working as a grief counselor, Bidwell Smith offers fresh insight into the connection between grief and anxiety. Bidwell Smith's profound compassion for those who've experienced loss has already helped so many people. This trailblazing book will help many more."―Cheryl Strayed, New York Times bestselling author of Wild

Claire Bidwell Smith is a therapist specializing in grief and the author of three books of nonfiction: The Rules of Inheritance,  After This: When Life is Over Where Do We Go? Her latest is Anxiety: The Missing Stages of Grief, and being no stranger to grief myself, I read the book underlining pages. What seemed to remarkable to me is the way Claire gives practical advice that can soften the pain, readjust it, and let you move on. I cannot thank you enough, Claire for this magnificent book.

I always, always want to know why this book now? What made you feel you had to write this?

This book has been calling to me for a while. About five years ago I wrote an article for based around this idea that anxiety is missing from the five stages of grief and the response to that article was overwhelming. I got so many emails and I also found my office flooded with clients who were experiencing this grief-related anxiety and seeing help with it.

The more clients I saw, the more I understood the affliction and how to treat it. What’s remarkable about the whole thing to me is that this symptom isn’t more widely talked about and because of that, I felt a certain sense of duty to provide more information on this important topic.

What I loved so much about this book was how you connect anxiety with loss. That makes total sense to me, since I think the root of anxiety is worrying about what WILL be lost. Can you talk about that please?

There is simply no question that loss causes anxiety. Loss is nothing but a reminder that life is precarious and that we are not in control. This realization coupled with the intense emotions of grief are the perfect recipe for anxiety. It also doesn’t help that we live in a “grief-illiterate nation,” as Maria Shriver says. We often feel very alone and unsupported going through the grief process and do not know where to turn. Not having the proper support can also lead to a greater sense of anxiety.

The tools you give readers is totally invaluable. Do you think they can be used for other issues as well?

Yes, I think some of these are life tools. We all need to do a better job being present to our lives, to our time here, to our relationships with each other and what it is we we want to leave behind when we eventually depart. Doing these things and living a more consciously will help all of us to experience more meaningful lives…and deaths.

I also loved the way the book was structured, in clear question and answer form, with very concrete ways of coping. Was this deliberate? (I personally think this way causes much less anxiety!)

Ha…yes! I was very conscious of the anxious state my readers would have be coming to this book in. I wanted to make the information as comforting and easy to digest as possible. Every day I work with clients who are anxious so I’m very familiar with the ways in which an anxious person processes information. Above all I just want this book to be helpful to those who are experiencing anxiety or in relationship with someone who is.

What’s obsessing you now and why?

I’m kind of obsessed with end-of-life care. I think that’s the next frontier in death and dying and the grief world. How we grieve is directly affected by how we die and until we see some strident changes in end of life care and how we can better embrace death, then grief will continue to be a struggle.

What question didn’t I ask that I should have?

The one thing I want to touch on is the positive in all this. First the good news that grief-related anxiety is easily treatable. But bigger than that, the reminder that death doesn’t have to be this big, scary thing all the time. Death is a reflection of love, it’s our greatest teacher in how to live. Grief is an incredible opportunity for transformation – let it break you open and reveal deeper truths about yourself and your time here.

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