BOOK REVIEW – MAKING PEACE WITH SUICIDE by Adele Ryan McDowell, Ph.D. @Adeleheals
Making Peace with Suicide
by Adele Ryan McDowell, Ph.D.
Publisher: White Flowers Press (Oct 28, 2014)
Category: Self-Help, Mental Illness, Grief, Psychology
Tour dates: Oct/Nov, 2017
Available in Print & ebook, 232 pages
Insightful, compelling, and compassionate, Making Peace with Suicide: A Book of Hope, Understanding, and Comfort takes a good hard look at the world-wide phenomena of suicide. This book is designed for anyone who has lost a loved one to suicide and felt that sucker punch of grief; for anyone who is in pain, walking unsteadily, and considering suicide as an option; and for anyone who works with, guides, or counsels those feeling suicidal and/or suffering the profound grief from a suicidal loss.
Making Peace with Suicide includes stories of courage, vulnerability, and steadfastness from both the survivors of suicidal loss as well as the unique perspective of the formerly suicidal. It offers shared wisdom and coping strategies from those who have walked before you. It explores the factors leading to suicide and the reasons why some do and some don’t leave suicide notes.
Making Peace with Suicide sheds light on the phenomena of suicide vis-à-vis our teens, the military, new mothers, as an end-of-life choice, and asks if addiction is a form of slow suicide. It provides a seven-step healing process and opens the door to consider suicide and the soul, the heart lesson of suicide, and the energies of suicide.
If suicidality has impacted your life, Making Peace with Suicide is a must-read. You will be guided through the unknown territory, given insights to allow understanding, stories to help you heal, and ways to make peace with a heart wide-open. Making Peace with Suicide is good medicine for the body, mind, and soul.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of “MAKING PEACE WITH SUICIDE” by Adele Ryan McDowell, Ph.D. for the purpose of an honest review.
Suicide and books about suicide are anything but pleasurable topics for me. I have been on both sides of this issue for the past 30+ years. My first experience with suicide was in high school when a boy I knew was threatening to kill himself and the crisis line called because he said he would talk to me. I didn’t know what to say to him! I worked a hotline when I was going through college, majoring in Social Work, in the 80s. I wasn’t any better equipped to take those calls either!
I have seen first-hand the destruction that suicide leaves in it’s wake as I watched my own family try to deal with my near successful suicide attempt. I grieved when my husband tried to take his own life as he laid in the ICU and I didn’t know if he would survive. I held my five-year-old grandchild as she sobbed uncontrollably for the father that was suddenly gone because he wasn’t feeling right in his head. We couldn’t explain it to her then, and I hope, after reading “MAKING PEACE WITH SUICIDE” by Adele Ryan McDowell, Ph.D that I might be better equipped when she is old enough to start asking the questions I know will be coming!
“MAKING PEACE WITH SUICIDE” by Adele Ryan McDowell, Ph.D is very readable. From the very beginning, Dr. McDowell makes certain that the book would connect to every person who might pick it up. The language is intended for the layman and the professional alike! She offers insights into some wonderful healing methods for those that have been left in trauma and pain!
I do take exception to the talk of reincarnation as it comes up in the latter part of the book. This is a personal belief for each person and is something that each reader must take in along with that belief system about death and the afterlife.
I give “MAKING PEACE WITH SUICIDE” by Adele Ryan McDowell, Ph.D four cups of steaming hot Room With Books coffee and I get a copy for yourself!
©November 3, 2017
Patricia, Room With Books
Praise for Making Peace with Suicide
“As a minister/therapist for more than thirty years as well as a wife who lost her military husband to suicide, I have never found a more compassionate, effective book on suicide and its aftermath. This book serves many needs and highlights the myriad ways in which suicide changes one’s life direction. I cannot say strongly enough how powerful and helpful this book is.”–Rev. Colleen E. Brown, Unity minister
“The loss of a loved one by any means is traumatic. When the loss is by suicide, in addition to the grief of the loss itself, survivors are often left riddled with guilt, anger, shame, and endless questioning, by both themselves and by others. In Making Peace with Suicide, Dr. McDowell gently and brilliantly weaves vital suicide survivor education with comforting and inspirational thoughts and quotes, all designed to direct the reader on a path of healing, resolution and peace. A must-read for anyone who has been touched by the tragedy of suicide and left to answer the question, ‘Why?’ ”—Carole Brody Fleet, award-winning and bestselling author of Widows Wear Stilettos…; Happily Even After…; and When Bad Things Happen to Good Women…
“Finally. A book that explains—in the simplest of terms, in a non-sensational, non-academic manner—the phenomenal, worldwide epidemic we call suicide. If you read one book on mental illness and how it affects our world, READ THIS ONE!”–Ginny Sparrow, Editor, American Association of Suicidology
“No topic could be more timely than suicide. This remarkable book addresses people who have contemplated ending their lives as well as those who have to deal with the aftermath of those who succeeded. But it will also be invaluable to mental health workers and military chaplains, especially those who deal with young people who have been bullied and veterans with PTSD. For such a complex topic, Dr. McDowell’s writing style is reader-friendly and the stories she presents may well evoke tears. Her wise recommendations include teaching self-mastery techniques to help people cope with the stress of a success-oriented society. I have read many books on this sensitive topic, but none with the breadth and scope of Making Peace with Suicide.”–Stanley Krippner, PhD; Co-author, Personal Mythology: The Psychology of Your Evolving Self and Haunted by Combat: Understanding PTSD in War Veterans
How do we help a loved one who has lost someone to suicide?
by Adele Ryan McDowell, Ph.D.
Suicide is often a sudden, unexpected death. It leaves loved ones reeling with shock, confusion, heartbreak, anger and whole panoply of emotions.
When word gets out about a death by suicide, there is a ripple effect. The loss moves out in ever-widening circles and whoever hears or knows anyone impacted by the loss wants to do something. Bake lasagna, make the calls, organize logistics, walk the dog, help with the service, be a shoulder, lend an ear. They want to feed you, nourish you and hold you. They want to help you stay afloat when you are drowning in heartbreak. They feel your loss, and your loss becomes their loss.
Loss is primal; we all feel it. And this is especially true when we hear of a suicide, and especially, the suicide of a young person with their unfurled life before them.
It is hard to see our loved ones doubled over in grief and pain. We want to do something – anything — to help ease their misery.
What can we do when someone we care about loses a loved to suicide?
- Stand there.
I know that might sound funny, but what I mean is that you stay grounded, are present and don’t head for the hills. You do not shy away or avoid the reality before you. It is the truth that is in the middle of the room. You bring your fully present, open-hearted self into the room. Presence – and that includes acceptance, non-judgment and compassion — are the greatest of gifts.
- Expect the unexpected.
Death can bring out the best and the worst in people. Death by suicide can become a trip-wire for some. Their unconscious, what-were-you-thinking criticism, inappropriateness and nervous chatter can surface and stun a room for all the wrong reasons. Try not to react and let it go.
Conversely, death can imbue a person with a sensitivity, gentleness and strength that soothes the soul. These people bring a loving, other-focused attendance that knits together the emotional safety nets for the bereaved.
Further, every one expresses their grief in their own unique way — whatever their style, be it get-up-and-go or shut-the-door-on-the-world. Grief is an idiosyncratic, winding road of a process. There is no calendar. There is no right or wrong. It takes as long as it takes as each person ploughs through their own murky waters to find sturdier footing.
- Speak from the heart.
Suicide is not an easy conversation. People get tongue-tied. They don’t know what to say or they’re afraid of saying the wrong thing.
Please withhold the shoulda/coulda/woulda’s and any form of judgment or criticism. Avoid peppering the bereaved with questions asking for all the suicide details.
Listen. Be kind. Offer specific help.
More than likely the bereaved is overwhelmed and exhausted. Go gently. Don’t take anything personally. Simply be there and speak from your heart. You do not need perfect words. You only need to share from your heart. Who knows, you may cry together, hold hands, sit in silence or giggle momentarily at something absurd.
Going forward, please note that many survivors of suicide find “committed suicide” to be insensitive as suicide is no longer illegal in the Western world. You might try “died by suicide.”
- Tell stories; remember and honor.
One of the best gifts you can give the bereaved is to tell stories of their deceased loved one. Parents, especially, never tire of hearing stories of their lost child. They appreciate his/her name being mentioned. Their child will always be in their thoughts and in their heart.
If bereaved loved ones are joining your holiday table, consider a small candle lit in the deceased’s honor or, perhaps, a toast…Let’s raise our glass to Sam who always made us laugh or Here’s to Sarah, we sure miss her – and her pumpkin pie, too.
- Give some latitude.
This grieving business is not easy. Everyday can be an effort to put your feet on the floor and take a step. Survivors of suicide are awash in complicated grief. Suicide leaves the survivors in an emotional muddle.
Further, suicide is a trauma. And, be aware, that survivors of suicide are at high risk for suicide themselves due to the broken taboo, the overwhelming grief, guilt and relentless replay of their lost loved one’s life and wondering if they could have done anything to change the outcome. It requires enormous fortitude to walk this particular path of grief. Go gently.
There are times when we all need a little help from our friends, and most especially when there has been a death by suicide.
Jungian analyst, poet, and cantadora (keeper of the old stories), Clarissa Pinkola Estes tells us that the wise, elder women of her family would say, “The only miracle medicine we have is each other.” Indeed.
About Adele Ryan McDowell, Ph.D.
Described by one of her smaller clients as “The Feelings Doctor,” Award winning author, Adele Ryan McDowell, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist with 35+ years’ experience who likes looking at life through the big view-finder.
Dr. McDowell has worked with suicide, domestic violence, and sexual assault crisis hotlines; survivors of Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, the Joplin Tornado, and the Newtown shooting; and clients struggling with addiction as well as those moving through profound life changes such as loss and health challenges. Her work focuses on helping clients find hope, balance, and peace in the face of crisis, trauma, abuse, and grief.
Dr. McDowell is the author of Balancing Act: Reflections, Meditations, and Coping Strategies for Today’s Fast-Paced Whirl. The suicide of a fellow psychologist led to the creation of her second book, Making Peace with Suicide: A Book of Hope, Understanding, and Comfort.
Adele — a Texan by birth and pioneering spirit — lives in Connecticut where you will often find her driving along the highways and byways, singing loudly in her car.
Adele is a frequent blogger on suicide and loss for the Huffington Post Canada. She has won two awards for ‘Making Peace with Suicide’:
-IPPY (Gold) in the Psychology category (Independent Publisher Book Awards)
-Living Now Award (Bronze), Books for Better Living from IBPA (Independent Book Publishing Association)
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