Connecting with Carla
Almost a year back, as a freshly minted survivor of suicide loss, I struggled as I picked up the debris of my shattered life even as I attempted to rebuild it. Throughout my life journey, at every crisis in my life, I’ve turned to books/reading material for support and inspiration. This time too it was no different…
As I desultorily trawled the Net, I stumbled on a book No time to say goodbyeby Carla Fine, herself a survivor of suicide loss. I ordered the book at once and was delighted when it reached me in the shortest possible time!
The book was a lifeline to me in more ways than one. There were several commonalities I share(ed) with Carla Fine. The most obvious was that Carla’s late husband Dr. Harry Reiss too was a well known urologist with a successful practice in New York. Like me, Carla too was the first person to discover that her husband died of suicide. Carla’s book helped me realize the many complex and complicated aspects of grief associated with suicide loss. And that, despite different contexts of culture, as survivors of suicide loss, we were more similar than different! Written in a deeply personal, poignant and engaging style, No time to say goodbye offered me a glimmer of hope in the devastating darkness of my life… that it ISpossible to move through the loss with grace, dignity and courage…
I read the book in one long stretch from start to finish. It was unputdownable. I immediately reached out to Carla by email; least expecting to hear from her. To my delightful surprise, she responded almost instantly. Over the months, we stayed in touch.
Earlier this month, when I visited New York, I met with Carla Fine. It’s not often that one gets to meet an author. Not so incidentally, Carla Fine has a Master’s in Journalism from the prestigious Columbia School of Journalism, is the author of several books and a passionate advocate voicing the needs and concerns of survivors of suicide loss. Her father Dr. Benjamin Fine was the education editor of The New York Times. At Carla’s home, there is a wonderful B&W photograph of Dr. Fine interacting with the legendary Albert Einstein! Carla also has an abiding Indian connection. Her late sister Janet Fine, lived in Bombay for most of her life.
I spent a wonderful evening with Carla and her husband Allan, their two adorable doggies Jancy and Benji walking around Chelsea and capping it with an amazing dinner at an Italian vegan restaurant. Carla and Alan are to visit me in Madurai this September. Carla and I share a sisterhood—a sisterhood forged in the crucible of the pain of losing our spouses to suicide. I am touched that she considers me her “Indian sister.”
As she memorably writes in her other related book Touched by suicide loss, “Suicide is incredibly humbling. It makes you realize that no matter how much you love or care for other people, you cannot be their life support system, you cannot keep them going, you can’t will your spirit over to them. Our loved one’s death by suicide is not our choice, yet we who are left behind, must learn to live with its consequences and deal with its aftermath.”
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Dr. Nandini Murali
Dr. Nandini Murali is a feminist and a gender and diversity professional. She is an author who also provides technical support in communications for the social sector. When she is not working, she heads off to the forests with her camera. Currently, she has a magnificent obsession with photographing leopards!