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You know how you can have a love/hate relationship with horror movies? You absolutely love them, yet you hate the way they make you jumpy for days… well, more like, nights… afterward?!
That’s kind of the way I am about books that are as hauntingly emotional as Surviving Ben’s Suicide, by C. Comfort Shields. I think I’m especially affected by books like this because I’m ridiculously emphatic – I honestly feel what others are going through. It makes for quite an emotion-filled life!
The love feelings stem from a love for good, emotional writing – which this is. I also LOVE when an individual takes their own experiences and attempts to help others who may face similar situations.
The hate? I hate for anyone to have to suffer to this degree. The thought of these individuals going through what they went through sticks with you. It’s helped, of course, by the knowledge that Comfort has turned out to be a stronger person, probably because of her tragic past. It also helps to know that she’s reaching out to others who, without her, would be isolated.
Surviving Ben’s Suicide is more of a journey than anything else. When the author, Comfort Shields, was just a freshman in college (far, far too young to find herself in the middle of a tragedy), she met and fell in love with a fellow student, Ben (too young to have the starring role). It wasn’t long before young Comfort saw signs of poor Ben’s mental imbalances. He did certain things, didn’t do certain things, said certain things, didn’t say certain things, and often left “Comfort” needing just that.
The story of what went on even BEFORE Ben’s suicide broke my heart. How unspeakably helpless one has to feel when they want desperately to help their loved one but the resources just aren’t there. Mental illnesses are FINALLY getting the attention they deserve and need. Today, everyone knows that a mental illness carries no more shame than being diabetic. One needs treatment just as much as the other. But, there was a time in the past when no one…absolutely no one…. wanted to confront their mental illness, let alone own up to it. Thanks be to God that the medical community and countless brave sufferers have shone the light on mental illnesses, but my heart breaks for the people who had to deal with these demons in the dark.
The darkness was, understandably, too much for Ben. He took the only way out he could find.
Comfort was unable to find the resources she needed to heal following Ben’s death. She had to fight her way through helplessness, grief, and even (without any justification) guilt. Years after the loss, she has written this book, Surviving Ben’s Suicide, to help people who find themselves in this situation.
I hope, with all my heart, that she’s able to connect with people who are NOW where she was THEN, I believe she could be a great help to them. Even more, I hope that people with “Bens” in their own life will read this book and find help before they need the book for a whole other reason.
I applaud the author for “revisiting” her heartache in an effor to reach out to others. It’s never any fun to reopen old wounds and renew the pain. But if even one person is helped, I know Comfort Shields would say it was more than worth it.
Surviving Ben’s Suicide (blog)