Linda Collins Writes of Losing Her Daughter

Singapore-based New Zealander Linda Collins wrote Loss Adjustment, about the suicide of her 17-year-old daughter, as part of a Master of Arts in Creative Writing at the prestigious International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML) at Victoria University. It is partly based on journals that Linda and her husband, Malcolm, discovered after Victoria’s death. Yahoo News Singapore assistant news editor Nicholas Yong discusses the book with Collins, his former colleague.

On 14 April 2014, Victoria Skye Pringle McLeod, a “wonderful, funny, glorious child”, ascended to the 10th floor of a condominium block and stepped off the edge. She was only 17. Loss Adjustment is the story of Linda and Malcolm’s journey as they grapple with the unbearable loss of their only child, Yong writes.

It is an eloquent, intimate and soul-searching memoir that takes in issues of mental health, social inequality and sexual identity, as well as spiritual struggles.

The title is also an allusion to the role of a loss adjustor, as Victoria’s death occurred amid the stress of insurance claims and rebuilding the family home in Christchurch, which was destroyed by an earthquake in 2011.

Five years on, the pain of Victoria’s death remains raw, and a shivering sense of loss runs throughout the book. “How do I even begin to say that I have lost the person who made my life worth living?” she writes.

Victoria’s journals have also been examined by developmental psychologist Jesse Bering for his book A Very Human Ending: How Suicide Haunts Our Species, which has been written about in publications such as The New Yorker and The Guardian.

Grief, as Linda writes, can’t be cured, though it can be diverted for a while. “It is not an illness.”

“Grief is an extension of love, and if you loved your child, you can’t stop loving them and therefore you can’t stop grieving.”

Linda Collins, 60, is the copy editor at The Straits Times.

Original article by Nicholas Yong, Yahoo News Singapore, September 9, 2019.

Photo by Dhany Osman.

Tags: Linda Collins  Straits Times (The)  suicide  Yahoo News Singapore  

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