Reading a book about a friend who lost her mom to suicide would probably be difficult for most folks to digest, but even knowing my own history, I didn’t comprehend how deeply this story would echo in the chambers of my soul. I don’t do formal book reviews. But sometimes a book comes across your desk that is so powerful, you have to tell others about it.
“Some Things You Keep” by JJ Landis took me three weeks to read. Not because it lacked the necessary magic to make it a page-turner, but because I lost my favorite aunt to suicide when I was just fourteen. My Granddad found her, much later, in her car. She was melting in the heat of Alabama’s July sun. I have seen the havoc her death has wreaked on my entire family, especially her two daughters. Those girls were only teenagers when she died.
I am now four years into my own recovery, following a major suicide attempt. I went from being a pastor to a psych ward. My family is no stranger to the monster.
I had to process this beautiful and heavy book in small sections to allow myself to grieve again. Like JJ, I have found the hope of Jesus Christ, the joy of my precious little family, and I am constantly wrapped in the quilt of God’s grace; however, anxiety still crawls up my back on occasion and digs nails into my throat.
My Aunt Missy and I used to read the obituaries together on the carport at my Grandparents’ house on lazy Sunday afternoons. We would laugh together at some of the bizarre names and we connected in our irreverence. Yet, I’ve not read an obituary since the day I served as pall bearer at her funeral, all those years ago.
Sometimes, you have to let go.
During the night of my own suicide attempt, before I crushed the thousands of milligrams of over-the-counter and prescription drugs, I tried to hang myself. I felt even more shame when the shower rod proved too flimsy to support my weight. But that didn’t stop me. My friend Gigi found my belt when she and my wife collected my personal belongings from the hotel room the next day. I’ll never forget the righteous indignation that flashed across her brown eyes as she returned to see me in ICU. I still wear that belt. It may sound morbid, but it’s a tangible reminder to me that life sometimes sucks, but Hope holds on.
Some things you keep.
This book is about much more than a mother’s untimely death. It is a call to never forget, to always forgive, and that all you have to do when life says you’re drowning is to let go and find grace, just beneath your feet. It’s been there all the time.
Grace is messy,
Want to win a copy? Comment on today’s Facebook post about why you should win this book. How has suicide touched your life? I’ll pick my favorite and announce the winner at 8pm tonight on Facebook.
To order your copy of this heart-wrenching, beautiful story of redemption and grace in the middle of the mess, just click here.
JJ blogs regularly at jjlandis.com
*I received no compensation for the recommendation of this book.
Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.
Suicide and Children: What You Can Do
You Can’t Glue Ashes: Notes on the First Year of Grief
The Power of Story in Preventing Suicide
A Book for Anyone Affected by Suicide, Addiction, or Abuse
The Gift of Difficult People
How to Make Space at the Table
How to Own Our Story and Love Better: Review of “Queer Virtue”