06 Jun

Book Review: Option B: Finding Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy

Option B: Finding Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy,

Authors: Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

Alfred Knopf, New York 2017

This recent publication is co-authored by Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer at Facebook who shares her personal experience of the sudden death of her husband Dave, while vacationing in Mexico.  Co-author, Adam Grant is her friend and psychologist at Wharton.  Together they merge the personal and the professional.  It is filled with heartfelt stories of loss but also some very practical tips.

As an independent woman who is used to getting things done and leading others, the author has to open herself up to the support and help of friends and family. With this tragic loss she is faced with parenting and living her life on her own.

The book is peppered with stories of others who experienced adversity.  Each story speaks to how they built resilience and the coping strategies that worked for them.  Sheryl relates her own story as she learns that Option A is no longer available and that she must now choose Option B.  Simple strategies are shared, new family rules that all feelings are okay, choosing to find good in each day, no matter how difficult and likely the most difficult lesson of all, to ask for help when you need it.  As a parent she uses this to focus on building resilience in her children, to become emotionally healthy adults in the future.

The income of this book is being donated to OptionB.org    This non profit initiative helps others build resilience in the face of adversity.  The website talks about sharing stories, becoming connected and building resilience.

A good anecdotal read on the twisty, turning road through the journey of grief. Practical and reflective, this is a book for others who have experienced loss.  Available to purchase at your local bookstore, online and in audible format.


22 Apr

When Caregivers Experience Grief and Loss

There are people who help others everyday as professional caregivers.  These people may be social workers, support workers, teachers, counsellors or acting in any role where they provide care and support for others.  In these roles we may find ourselves supporting clients through death and loss but what happens when the loss experienced is a client?

If we have worked in the field long enough we have all lost someone we have worked with.  We work with a vulnerable population, sometimes we are supporting them through a terminal illness or other times their death is sudden and unexpected, possibly a suicide.  We are professionals who establish therapeutic boundaries, but that does not mean we are devoid of human emotion.

The loss of a client can be painful, causing us to think about what we could have done differently, wondering if we did enough or simply mourning the loss of someone who touched our life. Feeling grief is a normal, healthy reaction to loss but it is very different losing a client than losing a friend or family member. With these boundaries firmly in place we may grieve alone and without the support of others.  Here are some thoughts and reflections that can help.

Don’t Let Grief Go Unprocessed

Of course we have to consider confidentiality but there are options. If it’s available to you utilize clinical supervision to talk about how you’re feeling.  The loss may bring up feelings about another client we are working with or concerns about our own competency.  Talk about it in a safe place and make connections to how you’re feeling and the thoughts you may be having that aren’t evidence based.  Utilize your Employee Assistance Plan and contact a counsellor where you can process your feelings in a confidential and  non judgmental environment.

Accept That Grief Is Messy

Grief is not linear and yes, it is messy, as the above graphic might suggest.  Shortly after the death of a client I found myself unexpectedly having to leave a staff meeting after becoming tearful.  Emotions can sneak up on you at the most inconvenient times. Speaking to colleagues who have experienced a similar loss can be really helpful.

Reflect and Respond

Clinical reflection can assist us in our practice whether it is creating a professional network or thinking about the client and our positive interactions.  Consider what you learned from the experience and how this impacts your role as a helping professional.

Be self aware

Be aware of the impact this is having on you and take care of yourself.  You had a unique relationship with your client and your feelings about this loss will also be unique. Buy that bouquet of flowers, go for that walk, have a cry and above all be kind to you because that is exactly what you need right now.

References and Resources

Coping with a client’s suicide,  American Psychological Association, November 2008 gradPSYCH

Coping with the emotional aspects of a client’s death, The New Social Worker, Sharon Martin, LCSW

A Therapist’s Grief: When a Client Suddenly Dies, Paula J. Siegel, MFT

When Therapists Mourn: Coping With a Client’s Death, Zur Institute


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