Archive for the ‘Suicide Bereavement’ Category

Keep Pressing On, Brother

September 8, 2020

The death by suicide of Maris, his beloved wife of forty-two years, changed everything for Noel Braun. In his struggle to rediscover himself, he sought structure and meaning in the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, the ancient pilgrimage route to Santiago in the north-west of Spain. In 2010, at the age of seventy-seven, he undertook his first pilgrimage.

He soon found that one Camino was not enough. Noel had to keep seeking. His yearning was like an addiction or a contagion, a virus infection. What drew him back? It could have been the extraordinary scenery of France, Portugal and Spain, the challenge of endurance walking hundreds of kilometers, the call of many languages, the chance to delve into history and deeper meaning of the land he was traversing.

Perhaps it was the call of the Spirit, luring him into the unknown where he had to rely on a strength greater than his own to persevere. Perhaps, it was the camaraderie, the chance to meet many people of different languages and cultures, to hear their stories and to make lifelong friendships.

Noel’s passion did not abate. He had to keep walking. He continued his pilgrimage in 2011, 2013 and 2015. These explorations of the Camino are described in his earlier books The Day was Made for Walking and I Guess I’ll Just Keep on Walking.

Keep Pressing On, Brother is his third book in a series of memoires detailing his Camino pilgrimage. The reader soon discovers there is far more to pilgrimage than simply visiting places. The physical and the spiritual blend with ancient and the modern. What is truly remarkable about Noel’s story told in these memoires is not just the deep spiritual journey at their heart but also the fact that Noel is well into his eighties.


The Day was Made for Walking

December 8, 2013

img384My new book The Day Was Made for Walking is subtitled Searching for Meaning on the Camino de Santiago. The blurb on the back cover is as follows:

Noel Braun yearns to walk the Camino, the ancient pilgrimage route that leads across France and Spain to Santiago de Compostela. Since the suicide of Maris, his beloved wife of forty-two years, he has struggled to find himself. But is it pure madness? He’s an old bloke. At seventy-seven-years, he should be sensible, act his age and relax in a rocking chair. Can his body and spirit withstand the demands? Can he leave family and friends behind? Noel believes this is a journey he MUST undertake. It’s a compulsion, a spiritual quest of self-discovery, an urgent need to commune with the world around and beyond him.
When Noel begins his journey, he discovers it’s not just the rigorous demands of the physical world he must answer. The territory of the heart and soul has its own challenges, which have him searching for spiritual and emotional insights. His travels are interwoven with accounts of the many engaging characters he meets. In time he realises he himself is one of the Camino’s characters.
The Day Was Made for Walking merges the spiritual with the physical, the ancient with the contemporary. It is a memoir, but also a glimpse into history and a travel guide.

Go to my website to order this or my other books.

No Way to behave at a Funeral -review

May 2, 2012

I found this review on the website of the American Association of Suicidality:

No Way to Behave at a Funeral is one of the most, revealing stories I’ve read about loss by suicide. Everyone’s story is unique, but the survivor can hardly omit or exaggerate some detail every time they tell it. We’ve all done it. I believe the body and soul can only take so much stress, guilt or regret. So when we tell our story, we often gloss over some things. This book, however, does not.

Braun’s courage was impressive in the face of his wife’s suicide, which occurred only days before their son’s wedding. Her warning signs could not have been more obvious. His feelings of guilt leap from the first several pages, leaving the reader with a knowing kind of dread; the old hindsight is 20/20 adage. Braun’s wife, Maris, wa a survivor of suicide herself; her two sisters suffered the same fate. She had been treated for depression for years and she had a plan, which she casually mentioned to her husband just prior to her death. I had tears in my eyes as I read the account of her last days. I could see how the author had analized and agonized over every last clue and beat himself with guilt. He described it as “an awful battle that began to rage beneath.” As the shock immediately, sadly, wore off, his mind went straight to the guilt stage. He asks himself, “which was worse, guilt or grief? I’m not sure. Take one serving of regret mixed with a heavy dose of guilt and you get the bleakest cocktail of mental pain guaranteed to blight the strongest.” Well said.

How do you survive this type of loss? Literally, how do you get up in the morning? Braun tells us. He chronicles every day of his first couple years and spares no detail. He muses on his future; he reflects on his past. He mourns squeezing fresh orange juice for only himself after Maris’ death. It’s the little pains, the little details and remembrances that he puts on paper that truly resonate with other suicide survivors. He tells the horror of picking up his wife’s car when the police say they are through with it. He can’t even bear to trim a tree his wife planted. He knows he will be able to face these minutiae of life later, but not immediately after his loss. He takes good care of himself and he leans on his children when he needs to. He serves as a wonderful role model for us all.

Besides his soul-baring struggle with guilt, he touches on a subject rarely spoken of in spousal loss; sex. What do you do with those memories, that loss, that need? He describes his persoanl pain in this area and decides not to pursue dating, at least not for a long while.

Braun does not allow the rest of his life to go to waste. He summons up the energy to unearth his forgotten writing projects and amazingly finishes them. He has his fist novel published. He does more than survive; he accomplishes things again. This is the primary message of the book; your life isn’t over after a suicide loss. You can smile again and you are still meaningful to this world.

At the risk of stereotyping, Braun’s candour might seem uncommon coming from a man. I would have loved to have had this book for my father after my mother’s suicide, which is one reason why this book is needed.

Ginny Sparrow

Suicide Bereavement Support Group

May 2, 2012

Lifeline Northern Beaches situated at Balgowlah on Sydney’ northern beaches  conducts suicide bereavement support groups. These groups are open to adults who have experienced the loss of a loved one by suicide. The group meets on the first Tuesday evening of each month, 7 pm to 9 pm. If you are interested or know someone who would benefit please contact Lifeline Northern Beaches on 02 9949 5522 for more information.

Suicide Bereavement Support Group

March 10, 2011

Lifeline Northern Beaches situated at Balgowlah on Sydney’ northern beaches from time to time conducts suicide bereavement support groups. These groups are open to adults who have experienced the loss of a loved one by suicide. The next group begins on Monday 28th March for 8 sessions. If you are interested or know someone who would benefit please contact Lifeline Northern Beaches on 02 9949 5522 for more information.

No Way to Behave at a Funeral-comments from readers

November 8, 2010

“I’ve just read your book and it is very impressive. You are a gifted writer. Your book is deeply personal and honest. Like a narrative poem of love and longing.”- Brenda

“Your book is a wonderful piece of writing and a very important book. It was quite an honour to read it.” – Sally

“Noel, you have a rare gift for artculating feelings and emotions and display great bravery in laying bare your most personal thoughts.” – Mike

“I loved hearing your story, thank you. I know a number of men who would appreciate hearing your story. There are a lot of resources available for women, but not much that is specific to the journey of  a man. A big thank you for your honesty about sex. A big issue that is so often ignored by our books, articles. We are left to answer those questions on our own. Not easy.” – Michael

No Way to Behave at a Funeral-a review

April 27, 2010

This book is an intensely personal account of the author’s journey after the death of his beloved wife, Maris.

Noel Braun bares it all in these pages. Grief and loss are as much a part of life as birth and love- we all will endure these at some time in our lives. So this book can be a comfort to others facing the loss of a loved one.

The author’s pain is raw, more so because his wife died by suicide after suffering many years of depression. He felt not only tremendous grief, but tremendous guilt that he could not have prevented his wife’s death.

The author has been brutally honest in this account of his life as a widower. This book is well written, and, as the author says, it is a love story first and foremost.

Wendy O’Hanlon     Cick-A Cultural Connection

No Way to Behave at a Funeral

April 16, 2010

I have just published a new book. Entitled No Way to behave at a Funeral, it is a memoir of my journey following the death by suicide of my wife Maris after years of suffering depression. The comments on the back cover are as follows:

The abrupt ending of a life by suicide can be the most catastrophic of events for those left behind. Survivors experience intense pain and massive guilt. Guilt banishes survivors to a place so removed from the normal hurley-burly of everyday life that they feel close to madness. Somehow they have to claw their way back.

Noel accepted that there was no way around his anguish and met suffering head on. His pain allowed him to discover the richness with him and to grow in wisdom which he hopes might be of benefit to others.

Maris’ death did not shut her out of Noel’s life. She remains a very real presence. This is a love story with a difference.