Suicide would appear to be the last taboo. Even incest is now discussed freely in popular media, but the suicide of a loved one is still an act most people are unable to talk about--or even admit to their closest family or friends. This is just one of the many painful and paralyzing truths author Carla Fine discovered when her husband, a successful young physician, took his own life in December 1989. And being unable to speak openly and honestly about the cause of her pain made it all the more difficult for her to survive.
With No Time to Say Goodbye, she brings suicide survival from the darkness into light, speaking frankly about the overwhelming feelings of confusion, guilt, shame, anger, and loneliness that are shared by all survivors. Fine draws on her own experience and on conversations with many other survivors--as well as on the knowledge of counselors and mental health professionals. She offers a strong helping hand and invaluable guidance to the vast numbers of family and friends who are left behind by the more than thirty thousand people who commit suicide each year, struggling to make sense of an act that seems to them senseless, and to pick up the pieces of their own shattered lives. And, perhaps most important, for the first time in any book, she allows survivors to see that they are not alone in their feelings of grief and despair.
In 1989, the author's husband of 21 years, 44-year-old Harry, a New York City physician who was depressed over the recent deaths of his parents, killed himself with a lethal dose of an anesthetic. Stunned by her loss, Fine searched in vain for books on how to deal with the suicide of a loved one. In her comprehensive and well-written manual for "suicide survivors," such as herself, she offers advice for those recovering from the suicide of a marital partner, relative or close friend. Drawing on research, interviews with survivors and her own experience, Fine provides insights into living beyond this tragedy including dealing with feelings of guilt and anger, the stigma of suicide and financial and legal problems, and she tells where to get help. She stresses that joining a peer support group is an important coping tool. Although some of the descriptions of suicides make for harrowing reading, the book is a valuable contribution to an overlooked subject.
Intense and Informative
The subject of suicide is difficult to share. Ms. Fine is courageous to show the readers the depth of her devastation after the suicide of her husband. Although there is no how-to book on surviving the suicide of someone close, this book comes close in defining the emotions that surface in the aftermath. Others will see that they are not alone.
The author lets the readers into her own experience with the first chapter, where she describes her husband’s suicide scenario. As a physician, he knew exactly what he was doing, in a premeditated death march. Twenty-one years of marriage and a thriving practice had not been enough to assuage his despair. In a detailed account, Ms. Fine tells the readers how she found him. The scene, the choice, and the permanence of his decision had an impact on her that was too much to bear.
Carla Fine sought support from a group where suicide survivors bond with one another. The author weaves her own experience with others’ stories of surviving suicide. Even in cases where suicide had been spoken of and previously prevented, the ultimate tragedy is nothing but a shock to those left behind. The author contends that healing begins with talking, and chapter 1 is aptly titled “Letting Go of the Silence.”
The book is well-organized into six parts and 19 chapters, including resources. Chapter 5 focuses on the stigma of suicide. The author, as well as others she interviewed, fabricated stories about the nature of their loved ones’ deaths to avoid the stares and silence that comes after the word “suicide.” People ask nosy questions about how someone died, and suicide is an uncomfortable answer. Throughout the book, Ms. Fine relies heavily on the reference Suicide and Its Aftermath: Understanding and Counseling the Survivors by Edward Dunne and Karen Dunne-Maxim, which gives credence to the narratives and anecdotes in No Time To Say Goodbye. Yet there is no better voice for the suffering than from one who has been though the pain.
The overall pace of the book was gentle and slow, with wise comments that closed each chapter. "We have heard one another’s stories of survival after suicide many times before, we know that every retelling will uncover fresh insights, recovered details, and unexpected interpretations." (page 222). Some of the stories describe inconceivable emotional crisis and disturbing suicide scenes. Some of the stories describe inconceivable psychological crisis and disturbing suicide scenes. As a "survivor" of my father's suicide, and a "survivor" of my own suicide attempts, I'd recommend this book for those who are unafraid of an honest approach to the gut-wrenching crisis of suicide.
Review completed by Lynn C. Tolson, author of Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story
Traumatizing, graphic, awful book!!!
Do NOT purchase this book if you are a survivor of suicide. It is full of disgusting, disturbing, graphic, gory details of multiple suicides and suicide methods. The author tends to dwell on these sordid details and even admits at one point feeling like "the National Enquirer" as she describes her first conversation with a survivor of suicide, and how she wanted to know all of the horrific details.
I don't know if this author finds a fixation with the macabre therapeutic in some weird way, but she should be sensitive to the people reading. Most of them are in a state of trauma. They don't want to know these details! They don't want to be reminded of them if they witnessed the suicide or found the victim. And they SURE as hell don't want to think about it if they didn't see any of it! It is baffling to me why the author, publisher, and the umpteen support groups who recommend this - why on earth would they think this would be helpful??
It was the opposite, for me. It made it worse. It was hard enough losing one of the people I love most in the world to suicide. I purchased this book at the recommendation of a support group, hoping to find comfort and healing. All this book did was leave me more traumatized than I was before.
Credibility wise, the book stinks at that, too. She references basically ONE other work for everything, so it made me feel like I was reading a research paper of a high school senior who got all of their information from one source. Seemed very amateurish.
If you are a survivor of suicide, do NOT read this book! Don't even consider it! If you are recommending or buying a book for someone else, DON'T choose this one!!! You are likely to put yourself of the person you're trying to help in greater mental turmoil than they are already.