Franklin James Cook

Author’s Widow Gives Fresh Perspective in “Stories Left To Tell”

In Grief, Stigma on February 24, 2009 at 5:34 am

Spalding Gray

Spalding Gray

ORIGINAL INTERVIEW — In an article in the Boston Globe, staff writer Megan Tench interviews Kathleen Russo, survivor of her husband’s suicide in 2004, about the dramatic presentation “Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell,” which “is her way of giving his words a new voice.”

With a four-person ensemble and rotating guest speakers … the show draws on both Gray’s acclaimed monologues and his unpublished writings. Audiences will laugh wildly, says Russo, radio producer for an NPR affiliate in the Hamptons – and perhaps they will see a greater humanity and the deep sense of humility that defined her husband’s life.

In the interview, Tench asks Russo, “How have you coped with his suicide?”

Well, there’s no manual. You just get through it somehow in your own way. What helped me most was that I had my children that I had to be responsible for and care for. I had no choice. If it was just Spalding and myself, maybe it would be different. But I had these kids to still raise, so I needed to be as strong as possible.

And then she asks, “Did you see it coming?”

Of course. He was sick for almost three years. One thing your readers need to be absolutely clear on and we do make clear in the show was that he was suffering from brain damage from the car accident. So, yes, he was prone to depression. Yes, he had bouts of depression and episodes. But this was really because he had brain damage.

In the end, Russo gives voice to the experience of many survivors who hope to counter the stigma of suicide:

I think it’s really important to talk about suicide because the more you talk about it, you realize everyone you know has been touched by it. It’s something that should never be swept under the rug like it was when Spalding’s mother committed suicide and no one talked about it. I don’t want my kids to be embarrassed by how their father died.

[The abridged URL for this post is  http://tinyurl.com/AuthorsWidow .]

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