Recently I received a request to review the book Surviving Ben's Suicide by C. Comfort Shields. Initially, I wasn't anticipating to accept the request. But after seeing the positive reviews that it was receiving on LibraryThing, I decided that it might be worthwhile for me to read as well.
I was not just a little nervous to accept and begin reading this because of its subject. I have had several friends commit suicide in high school and while at college and continue to live with my own tendencies. I should not have been afraid--Comfort has written a beautiful, honest, and touching memoir. Surviving Ben's Suicide is about just that--how Comfort learned to live again after her first boyfriend, her first love, shot and killed himself while she was in college.
As Comfort states in the preface of the book, one of the reason's she felt compelled to write about her experience was because there was virtually no one else writing about it. She found it very difficult to find books written by or for people ho had survived the suicide of their partner, spouse, or significant other. Literature about the death of a loved one existed, but nothing specific enough to what she was going through.
Comfort definitely succeeds in presenting her story. Intensely personal and very readable, she provides something that was lacking in many ways for people in similar circumstances--recognition of the pain, grief, guilt, and suffering experienced by those who have lost someone so dear to them through suicide.
The narrative is not linear, which at times can be a bit confusing. She tells of falling in love, only to lose it soon after. At first blaming herself, she comes to realize and accept that she cannot control others' actions and decisions. Though it took her many years, she has survived to become a stronger, more confident individual. Relying on the strength and importance of memories and experience, Comfort has not only written a potent memoir, but has also created a fitting memorial for Ben.
Not available in a library...