At Therapy’s End by Susie Flashman Jarvis

Healing Balm

At Therapy’s End by Susie Flashman Jarvis is a very beautiful and moving contemporary Christian novel. It deals with loss – a loss that deeply affects the whole family. The years pass by but all members remain locked seven years earlier, the pain is too deep and the guilt weighs too heavy to move forwards. “The grief was so huge and the trauma so awful that there was no way he could reach her.” No one could move forward from the loss. “They were both locked in their own version of the past.”

The novel is told in the third person from three different points of view. The reader becomes intimately acquainted with all family members and can understand their pain and their guilt. Everyone copes in whatever they can, clinging to the past in deep isolation.

The characters are well drawn and likable. The reader ‘feels’ their pain and anguish. Baby Alfie offers light relief – an escape from the pain as each family member tries to behave normally around him.

Lack of talking or opening up prevents life from moving on. Therapists can help to unlock the pain, as does writing but members need to talk to each other.

There is no magic formula for grief. It has a beginning but no end. “It’s ok… I’m allowed to cry. There’s no time limit.” You have to exist as best you can.

The novel also deals with domestic abuse. It makes for difficult reading. It has far reaching effects from childhood to adulthood. It creates complex relationships and feelings.

Sometimes we believe the lies we are told about how worthless we are. These are voices from the enemy and we need to learn to resist them and listen to the life affirming voice of God. “Don’t believe the negative thoughts that run round your head.”

In bad situations, people find means of coping. Some use food as a method of control. “On a bad day she still measured her worth by stones and inches.” Our worth is to be found in no one and nothing but God and He will always love us.

We may feel removed from God at times. “I know He hasn’t gone away but it seems like ages since I heard His voice.” Traumas can distance us from others and from God as we lock ourselves up in a bubble and withdraw from the world.

We can be good at pretending. We hide our real selves inside and present a ‘normal’ face to the world, even though we are broken inside. “I look so ordinary… in a way that doesn’t betray what the years have brought.” We all need to find friends with whom we can open up to.

Shared experiences will unite people. Empathy and support can be given, as well as practical help.

At Therapy’s End was a heart wrenching read. The readers emotions are heightened throughout. A cleverly constructed storyline means the reader only has glimpses at first of the loss – we do not know who, where or when, this is revealed gradually. I did enjoy At Therapy’s End. It was a difficult read but it was heartfelt and beautiful. An air of love enveloped the sadness throughout. A beautiful read that pierced my heart and soul.

I received this book for free. A favourable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.

JULIA WILSON

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