A Special Scar: The Experiences of People Bereaved by Suicide

By Alison Wertheimer | Go to book overview

Preface to the second edition

Reviewing what I had written over ten years ago and preparing this new edition has felt, at times, not unlike the process of bereavement-though less painful. I had to think about what could be retained, about what needed to be discarded, and what was new that needed to be incorporated?

A Special Scar was written partly because of my only sister's suicide and of course I am still a survivor of her suicide, although it is now more than twenty years since she took her own life. That event changed my life and the effects of Rosamunde's suicide will always remain with me. Nevertheless, being a suicide survivor does not form a major part of my present identity, my sense of who I am. So I am writing now from a different place, and inevitably with altered perspectives. I hope that this has not been detrimental to the process of writing. Because of the years which have elapsed it feels as though this second edition is really two books in one. If the result is an occasional unevenness, I hope that readers will understand the reasons for this.

The first edition was written with a wide-ranging readership in mind. It was written for survivors as well as their relatives and friends. I also envisaged that it would be read by people who, whether in a voluntary or professional capacity, care for, assist, support or counsel those bereaved by suicide: general practitioners, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals, befrienders, counsellors and therapists, members of the clergy, police, coroners and coroner's officers. I hope that remains the case.

Material from interviewing fifty survivors formed the main part of the original edition and their stories remain as the 'heart' of the book (though some of the original accompanying references have been updated). Listening to people who have been more recently bereaved by suicide, I am aware of how often the narratives remain unchanged. Each person's grief will be different, but there are also common threads in shared experiences, feelings and thoughts. I hope therefore that the book will continue to speak to survivors, as well as informing those who have a helping role.

-xiv-

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A Special Scar: The Experiences of People Bereaved by Suicide
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword xi
  • Preface to the Second Edition xiv
  • Acknowledgements xvii
  • Part 1 - Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - Suicide: an Introduction 3
  • Chapter 2 - Survivors of Suicide 17
  • Part 2 - Aspects of Suicide Bereavement 33
  • Chapter 3 - Meeting the Survivors 35
  • Chapter 4 - When the Suicide Happens 39
  • Chapter 5 - Looking Back 53
  • Chapter 6 - Why Did It Happen? the Search for Understanding 66
  • Chapter 7 - The Inquest 79
  • Chapter 8 - Funerals 90
  • Chapter 9 - Facing Suicide as a Family 95
  • Chapter 10 - The Impact of Suicide on Individual Family Members 108
  • Chapter 11 - Facing the World 124
  • Chapter 12 - Looking for Support 136
  • Chapter 13 - Facing the Feelings 149
  • Chapter 14 - Finding a Way Through 166
  • Part 3 - Responding to People Bereaved by Suicide 179
  • Chapter 15 - Meeting the Needs of Survivors 181
  • Chapter 16 - Groups for People Bereaved by Suicide 196
  • Chapter 17 - Counselling People Bereaved by Suicide 215
  • Postscript 237
  • Appendix 1 239
  • Appendix 2 244
  • References 247
  • Name Index 257
  • Subject Index 261
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