Books reviewed by James Woodward

Finding no answer

Silent Grief, Living in the Wake of SuicideSilent Grief, Living in the Wake of Suicide
Christopher Lukas and Henry Seiden, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2007, 176 pages, £13.99, ISBN 978-1-84310 -847-4

In nearly twenty-five years of pastoral ministry, I have felt most out of my depth when dealing with a funeral of someone who has taken their own life.  Sometimes, it is clear why an individual has been driven in to such a drastic solution to their distress.  At other times, families can be haunted by simply finding no answer to the question “why”?  Certainly, whatever the circumstances for those that are left behind, the wounds are deep and time does not serve to heal.

This is an excellent book for and about suicide survivors.  Lukas is a suicide survivor and indeed several members of his family have taken their own lives.  He draws heavily on his own experiences and takes them in to dialogue with Seiden,  a psychologist and psycho-analytic psycho-therapist.

They present information on bereavement, grief reactions and ways of coping.  They also, very significantly and creatively deal with issues of stigma and shame associated with suicide.  This book is a model of good writing: clear, insightful and earthed in both theory, and sadly, lived experience.  It enlarged the horizon of my limited understanding and I hope that my pastoral practice will be shaped by the quality of this text.

James Woodward