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Letters: Suicide and the lessons of loss

June 08, 2013

Re "After suicide, singular grief," Column, June 4

Thanks for Sandy Banks' exploration of the severe emotional distress after the suicide of a loved one.

I was shellshocked at the suicide in 1999 of my beloved daughter, Misty. The telephone words, just two, came simply: "She's dead." And after the crisis, that paralytic chill — a parent's life is never the same.

But unlike the family in Banks' column, I felt no guilt, just an unbelieving sense of loss. Today, however, it's more the wistfulness of missing her; for like Banks' respondent said, I understand that "her death taught me to live a better, more meaningful life."

Banks wrote that, to fill the loss, one might keep a journal. Better yet, before a loss, encourage loved ones to keep a journal. Then, especially for a parent, such an "open book" might provide an early warning of mental distress. Or at least, should a terrible loss occur, it provides a loving record to look back on.

My daughter's own posthumously published book looks at life just that way, from here to beyond. And that collection offers much consolation; for in her words' purest sense, she is still here.

Lee Mallory

Newport Beach

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