No Time to Say Goodbye: Surviving the Suicide of a Loved One, by Carla Fine

My Copy: 9780385485517 (image from

I’m not sure what exactly I expected to get from this book, but I did find it immensely helpful in a lot of ways. I think the title sums up what might be the overarching, lingering thing about dealing with suicide–most of the time, there’s no time to say goodbye.

No Time To Say Goodbye is written from a woman who has been there. Ms. Fine’s husband committed suicide many years ago, and this book includes her journey to trying to understand and deal with the world around her at the same time. Her story is interspersed between the stories of dozens of other survivors, and how the ones they know and love dealt with the issue as well.

Suicide seems to be that thing that’s abstract, or in the movies, or it happens to somebody you kinda-sorta-not really know who had had their whole life implode and “we all knew it was just a matter of time.” The strange thing about it is, very few of us would know until it finally happened, or we’d get clues and not understand what was happening until it was too late to put the pieces together.

This is a book that contains hope that’s not about hope–it’s a frank discussion about something taboo that most people don’t want to think about or discuss, at least, they don’t want to discuss it personally with anyone. The stigmas attached to someone who has committed suicide, and those around them, make approaching the subject difficult already.

This is why this book needed to be written in the first place. It’s a guide that tells you it’s okay to feel what you’re feeling after something like suicide occurs, whether it’s about rage, grief, numbness, freedom, etc. I think it’s a valuable book for anyone who has dealt with suicide (or still is dealing with the fallout…because for many it never really goes away).

I was glad I picked up this book because it gave me insight into a pretty big gap in psychological study: studying those left behind by a suicide, rather than the suicidal person themselves. I was shocked at some of the stories of callous bystanders, family members and even those in the psychiatric field more interested in the gory details than how the surviving inner circle is dealing with it (or trying to profit off the information).

No Time to Say Goodbye also takes a lot of its psychological info from one of the few studies on those around a person who killed themselves: Suicide and Its Aftermath: Understanding and Counseling the Survivors. Part of me really wants to pick up this book and learn more, and certainly the book has helped Ms. Fine with her work counseling survivors while writing this book.

I hope like hell you haven’t had to deal with suicide in your family or friends or co-workers, anybody you know, though odds are we’ve all known someone (or will). In which case, I recommend this book for anyone who’s going through or has gone through the fallout of a suicide. It’s not going to automatically make you feel better, but will give you enough insight to find what you’re looking for and see how others have had to deal. It wasn’t just Ms. Fine’s personal story–she incorporated so many thoughts and feelings from different people, and they’re all okay in the moment.

2 thoughts on “No Time to Say Goodbye: Surviving the Suicide of a Loved One, by Carla Fine

  1. Rae Longest says:

    There is a new TV series this season that deals with those in a close circle of friends who are left behind when a leader/friend of the group commits suicide. They are left puzzled, confused, and bewildered as to how it could happen to “them.” I think it is called “A Million Little Things” or something like that.


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