A family healing from suicide — told by a mother and her three children with fresh, poignant art

Author Rebecca (Becky) Anderson lost her husband Don to suicide in 2002. As part of the recovery process from this deep loss, she and her three children, ages 5, 7 and 19, embarked on a healing journey with artist Laurie Phillips eight years later in 2010.  Each family member had their own story to tell of how the suicide of husband and father impacted their lives. Their experiences are documented in their own words within individual books: Becky, Pattie, Aidan, and Will. A fifth book, Parenting the Suicide Survivors’ Club, a memoir written by Rebecca Anderson, offers perspective as a mother, wife, and medical professional determined to put her broken family back together again. Out of the collaborative art and narrative experience between artist and family came healing and the 5-book set, Suicide Survivors’ Club: A Family’s Journey Through the Death of Their Loved One.
Kim Ode, columnist with the Star Tribune had this to say about the Suicide Survivors’ Club books:


"...The books tackle heavy issues, but their spare language and evocative watercolor illustrations lend them the accessibility of children’s literature, encouraging readers to hold this horrific topic lightly, indeed.

Not that anyone else was supposed to see them. “These are books that were never going to leave our living room,” Anderson said.

But when Phillips began showing pages of the work in progress at various art shows, she and Anderson were struck by the intensity of viewers’ responses. For those who’d experienced a loved one’s suicide, the art let them talk. Those grieving from other causes heard a familiar note..."

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When we all work to reduce the stigma surrounding suicide, people struggling with it will feel less isolated and can reach out for help. We believe these books help loved ones dealing with suicide to start the conversation, open up and move forward on their own healing  journey.

– Rebecca Anderson and Laurie Phillips 

Rebecca and Laurie are available to speak to your group about using art and storytelling to heal from grief surrounding the suicide of a loved one. Please contact Rebecca for information about scheduling a presentation or ordering book sets in volume.  

"These beautiful books are small pieces of art with narrative that express the different experiences and relationships to the same tragic event. They validate the feelings of loss survivors of all ages and also show how art can help heal.  As a loss survivor myself, I thank you for thoughtfully and courageously telling your stories in ways that will be enlightening for those who have not had the experience, and bring comfort to those who have." 
- Donna Fox, Director of Adult Programs and Suicide Prevention, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) MN
DONATE to your favorite non-profit so they can distribute our books for free. 

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“As a family therapist specializing in grief, I was most impressed with the way this series captures the internal world of a particular family grieving a suicide death.”
- Janice Winchester Nadeau, PhD, LP, RN, Bereavement Specialist 

“These books should help any reader to better comprehend the complexity of the process of recovery from the suicide of a loved one, that it can’t be sorted into neat boxes; much of it involves living an ordinary life that makes acres of room for grieving and healing.”
- David Morris, PhD,
Licensed Psychologist
“The Andersons share this intimate and private journey for the common good of all of us who grieve as suicide survivors.”
- Janet Benz, DNP, RN, founder of Christopher Benz Foundation  
“The Suicide Survivors’ Club books tell the Anderson family’s story in their own words, complemented by art that speaks in ways words cannot.” 
- Sharon Ward, MA, LPC, LP, Filial Therapist 
"The visual format is so original. There's a lightness to the books that doesn't contradict the seriousness of the subject. By presenting issues in a completely different non-stereotyped setting, they succeed in connecting with my emotions and touch me with something that seems fresh and real."
- Sarah Anderson, Sister, Aunt, Sister-in law, Artist
"As a pastor, I frequently counsel parishioners on questions that arise from the suicide of a family member, friend and even a stranger. I can see these books being held and read as people grapple for answers."
- Laurie Pound Feille, Senior Minister, First Christian Church, Minneapolis