Ordinarily the publication of one’s book is a very joyous event, a cause for celebration, and in this case, after enduring a six-year course of collecting our data from more than 600 bereaved parents, writing up results, and endless revisions, we do indeed feel a sense of great relief and profound accomplishment. Yet, at the same time, at least two members of our coauthor team must now acknowledge bitter-sweet feelings, having profound sadness, knowing that two weeks after our book’s official publication date will mark the 10th anniversary of our son Jesse’s suicide death at age 31. We deeply miss him and always will. His death was the inspiring force behind the intellectual efforts in writing Devastating Losses. Survivors like us carry the weight of loss for the remainder of our lives, unwilling to let go of our memories, desperately clinging onto our lost loved ones with the available means at hand. All this is part of the great complexity of grief. And in cases of suicide and drug overdose deaths, there may be a need for survivors to fight against the currents of society’s readiness to forget those dying from more “blameworthy” causes.
All of our coauthors are very proud of Devastating Losses. We have woven a tapestry of setting the individual and personal experiences of loss and adaptation against the tableau of the collective responses from our largest ever survey data of bereaved parents. We feel this gives the work a certain distinctiveness. We feel it facilitates understandings of the coping and adaptations of bereaved parents after losing children to suicides and drugs. We were deeply touched by some of the pre-publication statements made by experts in our field about this work calling it a path-breaking study. If our book eases the burden that survivors must shoulder in adapting to the traumatic deaths of their children–and clarifies the ways they can be helped by care-giving professionals–then we will feel very satisfied indeed. Hopefully, this work will help survivors avoid the pitfalls of feeling isolated and alone following a suicide or drug-related death of a child. If after reading our book survivors can more readily connect with the communities of their bereaved peers and with compassionate counselors then many of their adaptation struggles will be greatly alleviated.