About the Book
On Halloween 2002, Jan Andersen’s 20-year-old son Kristian found a permanent solution to his misery. Suicide. He wrote two suicide notes, took an overdose of Heroin and died on Friday 1 November 2002. Chasing Death is NOT a grief recovery book, but one that attempts to put candid and heartrending words to the often incommunicable pain, guilt and despair that the surviving families endure, not only through the telling of the author's story, but through the experiences of other families mourning the loss of a child, stepchild, grandchild, sibling, friend or relative to suicide.
The prime aim is to raise funds for charity and to provide a platform for families to talk about their most uncomfortable emotions and thoughts. This is not to elicit sympathy in any way, but to afford others a glimpse into the darkest elements of grief. This book is therefore not about healing or recovery and is certainly not an easy read. However, it was important to give a voice to those families who have felt unable to speak about their feelings to family, friends and acquaintances.
Too many bereaved people are thrown into a wilderness of relentless, silent torture, afraid to share their feelings for fear of being judged harshly, which only serves to exacerbate their grief and perpetuate the stigma of suicide. This book clearly demonstrates how debilitating the grief can be and how it can still cripple a survivor, ten, twenty, thirty and even forty years or more after the event. It describes the real pain, thoughts and feelings, not just a list of standard emotions that you may see in many grief resources. However, there are uplifting chapters that give advice on how to live alongside the grief in a positive way and how joy and sadness can co-exist.
The author, Jan Andersen said, “In my frenetic search for understanding and support, I had difficulty finding any resources that truly connected to my raw grief. Whilst many articles and books on bereavement talked about the range of emotions that one could expect to feel, such as guilt, anger and disbelief, few of them explained how these feelings could truly manifest themselves through uncharacteristic and frightening thoughts and actions. Most suicide books appear to be remote and academic and focus on trying to understand suicide rather than relating to the shattered world of those left behind. They may talk about stages of grief and recovery, but anyone who has lost a child to suicide will agree that it is a brutal ordeal from which you will never fully recover.”
Chasing Death was written over a period of six and a half years and covers topics within its 25 chapters that will not be found in other books on the topic. For example, the chapter on Bizarre Thoughts, Actions and Secrets covers the darkest and sometimes irrational thoughts and behaviours of a suicide survivor. The author admits that both she and her eldest daughter had considered going to the cemetery to “dig up Kristian and take him home to look after him”. There is a chapter on Handling Insensitivity from Others and an uplifting chapter on Life after Death.
University Lecturer, Anne Marie said, “After my brother killed himself, I read so many grief and suicide aftermath books and threw most of them in the bin because they did not truly relate to my pain. So much of what Jan expresses in Chasing Death is exactly how I feel and her writing has evoked powerful emotions and images that make me want to return to the book many times. As a grieving parent herself, Jan has insight into the terrifying and overwhelming anguish that affects surviving families. Jan has written the book in such a way that people, both young and old from all walks of life, can read it. She also covers all the areas that we think about but don’t want to discuss.”
The audience for Chasing Death extends beyond grieving families and those who deal with them and will provide a compelling, touching and enlightening read for anyone interested in emotional true life stories. It will also help people respond with greater understanding and sensitivity to the surviving families’ grief.
Solicitor, Karin said, “I have never lost a child, but I am a mother. I have read numerous triumph over tragedy books, but never has a book touched me with such profoundness as this one. I wept on countless occasions, but found that once I had started reading, I just didn’t want to put the book down. How Jan has managed to channel her grief into something so phenomenal is not only admirable, but shows an incredible strength that I just don’t believe I would ever have if suicide were to strike my own family. I don’t just see a bestselling book here, but a powerful drama or movie. I would certainly be the first at the box office.”
Veronica Holmes said, “As a professional psychologist, I was still totally unprepared for my son’s suicide. I spent so much time trying to analyse why he ended his life and reading the type of literature that I could have written myself prior to his death. Sadly, I had to experience the devastation of suicide firsthand to realise how useless many of these books were. The way that Jan synthesises through words all the aspects of the unbearable and complicated grief that follows the suicide of a child is truly amazing. She helps to break down the barriers of shame, helplessness and secrecy and I found the chapter on Handling Insensitivity from Others invaluable.”
Shortly after Kristian’s suicide, Jan established a website to offer support to families who have lost a loved one to suicide and to help those who may be experiencing suicidal thoughts and feelings. She said, “I believe that something positive has to emerge from every tragedy. If the website and the book can help just one family, then it is an achievement – not mine, but Kristian’s.”
£1 from every hard copy of the book sold will be donated to Kidscape, the UK charity committed to keeping children safe from bullying and abuse.
For further information, please contact:
Perfect Publishers Ltd
Email: shahida at perfectpublishers dot co dot uk
or Jan Andersen at jandersen8888 at live dot com.
“It's far easier to write why something is terrible than why it's good. If you're reviewing a film and you decide "This is a movie I don't like," basically you can take every element of the film and find the obvious flaw, or argue that it seems ridiculous, or like a parody of itself, or that it's not as good as something similar that was done in a previous film. What's hard to do is describe why you like something. Because ultimately, the reason things move people is very amorphous. You can be cerebral about things you hate, but most of the things you like tend to be very emotive.”