Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I'm reposting this entry from last May, adding another book, and changing the Five Things Posts to Six.

The newest: Surviving Ben's Suicide: A Woman's Journey of Self-Discovery. Written fifteen years after the event, this book chronicles a woman's journey toward coming to terms with the death by suicide of her college boyfriend. She reflects on how difficult it was for her to find anything helpful for a "significant other" ~ someone who loves deeply but is not an "official" part of the family. I will always think of my son's girlfriend as part of our family, but I am sure that she has experiences similar to some of those depicted in this book. What I particularly love about this book is the author's insistence on the importance of memory in shaping how we live our lives ~ an antidote to the silence that surrounds suicide in particular and death in general.

Information about the other sidebar links:
Every Child Is Precious. I think it's an essay with some valuable information for those who care for or those who simply care about bereaved parents and siblings.

A Grief Observed is C.S. Lewis's classic work, written after the death of his beloved wife (a story which many know through the movie Shadowlands). It's often been noted that A Grief Observed is a far superior book to his previous, more intellectual work The Problem of Pain, in that he makes no attempt to hide the raw agony experienced when it seems that God simply slams the door on God's way out.

Fierce Good-bye is a website devoted to the experience of suicide survivors. A couple of the pastoral care essays(offered from a variety of faith traditions) are excellent.

Lament for a Son is another classic, a series of short vignettes written by a father whose son died in a mountain-climbing accident. It was the first book several people either recommended or outright bought for me. He doesn't mince words and he addresses both the concrete realities we seldom think about unless we are forced to and the mystery of the baffling world of the bereaved family of a young adult child and brother.

My Son . . . My Son is a book that was given to me by the professor (and now friend of mine) who runs the program in which I am earning a certificate in spiritual direction. The mother who wrote it is a mental health professional who wondered, when she decided to go back to work, whether anyone would want anything to do with a counselor whose own son had died by suicide. Exactly what I wonder, I said, when she handed me the book. Who would ever see me as a pastor or spiritual director now? My friend looked at me and said, I know that's what you're thinking. That's why I'm giving you this book.

No Time To Say Good-Bye is a practical book. It covers a lot of ground and empasizes the importance of support groups. One of the Amazon reviews says that some of the descriptions of suicide are harrowing. I suppose one reaches a point where that becomes a relative term.

I've already linked to some of the
Ron Rolheiser columns. He's written a number of them on suicide and so, collected together, they can be a bit repetitive and overwhelming, but his insight into the grief of survivors and the loving God in whom we hope, when we can, is uniquely helpful, at least in my view.


Kathryn J said...

Yesterday, a boy committed suicide in one of the local schools. I have a new appreciation for what his family and friends are experiencing having walked some of this with you. My heart aches for them and I cried when read the newspaper.

Gannet Girl said...

Oh, Kathryn. In school? How old was he?

Anonymous said...

Thank you.
Just received No Time To Say Goodbye.

Purple said...

Thanks Gannet for the links and suggestions. We read Lament for a Son in our theology class.