Christopher Lukas knows first-hand what it is to lose not just one person close to him from this cause of death, but several; his mother, an ageing aunt and uncle, and a life-long friend since childhood, followed years later by his brother too. He started writing about suicide as a therapeutic activity for his own benefit and soon realised he had something to offer others whose lives are irrevocably changed through a suicide in their own family or close social circle.
His book Silent Grief: Living in the wake of suicide (Jessica Kingsley, 2007), co-written with Henry M. Seiden, is his account not only of his personal experiences but of those he's interviewed over many years in similar, though fundamentally unique, circumstances.
The conclusion he reached after silence shrouded his first loss – that of his mother when he was a child – and subsequent deaths was that the 'bargain' of silence is never worth it. Families may feel that not speaking about such a death avoids reopening wounds, will hasten recovery, lessens the risk of social stigma from those around them who are uncomfortable with any discussion of such matters but, he says, it is never a good idea: 'Each time you talk about a painful experience, there is a little change,' Lukas writes. 'It's almost as if the experience is like a kaleidoscope: each turn permits the elements to realign themselves. If the turn is allowed, there's some reorganisation, some give, things feel a little better. There are tiny transformations. You are able to shift into a more comfortable mode, so that you feel less despairing about the same reality.'
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