Disclosure: Jerome is an friend and biking buddy, so I may be biased, though I’d like to think I’m not!
Jerome’s voice and manner in Standing on the Edge: Dealing with the Aftermath of Suicide, is buttery soft. He is a gentle soul, providing soulful reflection on some weighty matters of life and death.
On the surface, this is a book about suicide and its survivors. Jerome is somewhat unique in having known 4 suicide victims and their families, and shares his journey of exploration into what one might take away from the victims’ stories and survivors’ experiences.
However, I found something deeper as I was transported by Jerome’s distant memories of New Mexico, Washington State, and Maine. As Jerome traced the footsteps of his family members and friends, it felt to me like I’d departed present reality, and now was treading on sacred ground, as we went back in time to experience pivotal moments and distant memories of the departed. Do you know the feeling you get when you’re walking in a graveyard? You don’t want to speak too loudly or even step too firmly to avoid disturbing the spirits. This was the feeling I had.
Some key insights I took away were how important it is to respect the very personal nature of this type of tragedy, especially with the survivors, which I felt Jerome did with aplomb. Also, how rehearsing your own passing and that of your loved ones, far from being morbid or scary, is actually a key to showing your love, preparing for the inevitable and learning how to appreciate the moments we can share together in the here and now.
My favorite parts of the book were how Jerome weaved these special places and his quiet moments of introspection. This writing technique — taking the reader to sacred ground, and then imparting deep insights — is well worn territory, but works absolutely perfectly for this subject matter.
If I could fix two things about this book, I would make it longer, and I would want to see Jerome develop more confidence as a writer, and take us even further on the journey with him, which I expect he will do.
In the end, I had a very strong feeling that Jerome was influenced by the Tao Te Ching; it was recommended by a mutual friend of ours. I think anyone who has read that will see “Standing at the Edge” as kind of a Tao Te Ching for surviving and accepting tragedy, and living your life with deep intention and peace.