“In Bridge Over the River Why, the Coopers have succeeded in a dual task documenting their own journey through the grief of losing their son Eli by suicide, while at the same time providing a valuable resource for anyone who has had to face the same terrible tragedy. They start with the premise that “doing and feeling” are the key components of moving forward and have a core message to deliver: “as bereaved parents, we want you to know this is survivable”.
This short book blends the personal inquiry of David and Deborah, populated with meaningful quotations and practical advice. They challenge readers to harness their own resilience and list a series of brief tips ranging from how to talk to friends- “the more we talk about the loss, the more real it becomes...talk about your child often”. Keeping Eli’s name in day to day conversation helped them move forward.
There are different ways to carry on the legacy of a loved one. Some keep a photo album, while others focus on sponsoring a memorial lecture or a scholarship. In their search for meaning, the Coopers are committed to addressing a significant gap in the mental health services for people like Eli, by establishing Eli’s Place, a rural residential treatment and transition centre, dedicated to holistic therapeutic techniques for young adults. As a psychiatrist working in the fields of depression and suicide, I am inspired by this initiative and believe this is an important step in building strong partnerships between persons who have lived through serious mental health challenges, and those who provide professional care.”
—Sidney H. Kennedy, MD Professor of Psychiatry, University of Toronto Arthur Sommer Rotenberg Chair in Suicide and Depression Studies, St. Michael’s Hospital
"This book is an excellent guide for parents and others grappling with a suicide loss. The Coopers are an authentic compassionate pair of voices that speak from their lived experience. Cross the bridge and take the journey with them. A journey of tears and ultimately, hopefulness."
—Alex Shendelman, Program Manager The Survivor Support Program, Distress Centres, Toronto, and a survivor of suicide loss
"I recommend this touching, compassionate, relevant book to grieving parents and anyone whose life has been touched by suicide.
In sharing their journey through tragic grief to hope and meaning, I am reminded of the Japanese " Kintsugi" : (or Kintsukuroi, which means “golden repair”) the ...Japanese art of fixing broken pottery ... Beautiful seams of gold glint in the cracks of ceramic ware... This repair method .....emphasizing its fractures and breaks instead of hiding or disguising them. Kintsugi ...makes the repaired piece even more beautiful than the original, revitalizing it with new life."
Hope and comfort for bereaved parents.
— Robin Feldman, MA, ATR, BCATR
"This little book is a gem. An authentic guide with honest, heartfelt sharing and guidance. David and Debora Cooper share their journey of loss, grief and reconciliation after the suicide of their son, Eli. Their story and the stories of others let the griever know that they are not alone. and their feelings are normal. It paves the way for those newly grieving and those who have gotten stuck. Each little chapter raises awareness of an aspect of the grief process, offering solace and guidance as to helpful steps that can be taken. Instead of re-inventing the wheel and learning on our own, we can follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before us. I give thanks to David and Debora for sharing their journey so openly. I trust this little book will be a beacon of light to others in their darkest moments."
— Adele Sherman
About the Authors:
David L. Cooper is a retired business owner, a suicide loss survivor, a volunteer grief facilitator with the Toronto Distress Centre, and the founder of STUFF Canada, a non-profit created in 1999 to reduce homelessness and poverty in Toronto. In 2004, he was the recipient of the New Spirit of Community Award at the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy, and the Peter F. Drucker Award for Not-For-Profit Innovation in 2003. He and his wife Deborah share practical supportive advice for bereaved parents and the professionals who work with them.
Deborah A. Cooper, a suicide loss survivor, formerly a Public Health Nurse with the City of Toronto and a part-time faculty member in Nursing at Seneca College, worked with David in the family business for many years prior to retiring in 2015. She has been a community volunteer and advocate for more than 40 years.