Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief (Bidwell Smith)

Book #16, read March 2019

Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief: A Revolutionary Approach to Understanding and Healing the Impact of Loss (Claire Bidwell Smith)

I was excited to read this book, as anxiety has plagued me all my life.

TL;dr: It’s not a bad book. But if I weren’t on this nutty mission to read 100 books about death/grief, I don’t know that I would have spent my time here. Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief seems like a book for anxiety beginners. And, unfortunately, I’m an anxiety expert.

Its author, Claire Bidwell Smith, is a therapist who has plenty of personal experience with grief to boot. Here she has produced a valuable guide, almost a workbook, for people suffering a loss whose bereavement includes (new to them) anxiety. This fills an apparent hole in the grief book market.

Topics include: grief basics, anxiety basics, “understanding your story of loss,” “retraining your brain,” mindfulness for grie/anxiety, and more.

Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief will be most useful for readers who are willing to actually complete the various exercises scattered through its pages. In particular the story reframing exercise and the one for loss-related guilt seem potentially powerful.

If your grief is not persistently overwhelming (but includes anxiety) and you are disinclined to spend time working one-on-one with a therapist, then this book is for you. It will be most useful to readers who are unfamiliar with feeling anxious.

If you are no stranger to anxiety of other kinds and have experience with mental health services, then (like me) you might get less out of Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief. I know all too well what anxiety is and where it comes from. I even know what to do when I feel it, whether anxiety-related or grief-related.

At this point in my anxiety ~ journey ~, books, tips, and tricks tend to make only a marginal difference. This means I’ve come a long way, but it also means that anxiety is, to a significant and unfortunate degree, intractable.