Open to the world and to life, Alexandra Lestang has lived and worked in several countries. His son Antoine died in a domestic accident in June 2020. In this book-testimony of the loss of a child, he tells himself in an incredibly sincere and moving way to express the complexities of grief. A rhythmic, moving, fun and even humorous story that carries a strong message of life in it. A profound and inspiring example, or how a painful ordeal can be turned into a very fruitful project. Conference.
Grief, and even the loss of a child, remains a taboo subject
Why did you want to write this book, what was your purpose?
There are three reasons for this. At first I did it for myself. Because it made me feel good. It worked like therapy. And if it does me good, in a misunderstanding, it can do good for others. I did it for Antoine too. Because my son was a sun, and I want him to be a star, a “star”. Let it continue to shine. In the end I wrote with a larger purpose; It was built little by little. Grief, and more so the loss of a child, remains a taboo subject, even though it is less and less. Since I lost my son, I need to read testimonials to understand and help me to think and exchange. And it’s not so obvious. So, I wanted to add my stone to the building. To help people talk about it out loud; We let ourselves cry. But it is also that we let ourselves laugh, even together.
An event like the death of a child, it makes a lot of noise, it forces us to reconsider everything because we find meaningless money
Was writing this story as painful as saving a life?
It was hard at times. For example writing accident (but less than I expected). Or to write memories; This was what was the most painful paradoxically. But most of all, it helped me a lot. To find out what was swarming inside me, to dissect it. An event like the death of a child, it makes a lot of noise, it forces us to reconsider everything because we find meaning in meaninglessness. I found a few answers In the endBut I don’t think I’ve ruled out any issues or obstacles. I was relieved to know that I had gone to the “end” of the reflection. I hope I found the right line between scratching the wound, before disinfecting, to help heal and rubbing the knife in the wound …
This book is your first book, how was the writing process?
I started reading a lot. The book has helped me through the mourning process. Such as Anne-Dauphin Juliand. And then several of my relatives who went through hard times talked to me about writing, telling me it could help. So I started writing. First for me. And it’s true that it made me feel “light” in a way. Gradually, at the same time, I wanted to make it a “public” object. Writing for yourself is different from writing for others. The messages I wanted to convey, I thought about the angle, the melody But I need to reassure you that it was “readable.” So I read this at the beginning of a very small committee: four people, not “too close”, who could read the story in the background and still give me purposeful feedback. They took their role very seriously, at the same time giving me kind and relevant comments. After that, I asked people close to me, who felt ready, to make their “original” comments before making the work public. It gave birth to dialogue, discussion, lots of affection and love; I like this phase. I used their feedback to create a version that I sent to the editors, hopefully will read and get feedback, so I can adjust it.
Honestly, at first I was thinking more about self-publishing. However, I had the opportunity to “tempt” Robert Lafont’s editorial director, Noel Meimaroglo. He believed in this project from the beginning, although there was still much work to be done. And he has accompanied me very well, at all levels, as well as the whole team of Robert Lafont. I liked the “edit” of the book. I discovered the talent of real editors. The cutting work in particular fascinated me. My text has been “cut” by the suggestion of deleting a paragraph or part of a sentence; Pebbles have become a precious stone.
I want everyone near or far to find a little positive nugget there.
What were the main challenges and difficulties faced?
The main challenge is that I want this book, and I want the approach to be positive. Carriers of explanation, hope, laughter, love. Given the subject, it’s not really won. For the anecdote, I was afraid that everyone (my family, my friends) would be upset about the project or the content of the book. Robin, who is partly behind the book project, suggested I watch a movie Chambalout, Where the heroine writes a book about her difficult story (her husband had an accident that left her severely disabled). Her friends read it as soon as it was published. And while reading the book, everyone finds fault with the way he is described in the story and it turns into a fight. Okay, it’s a comedy, so it’s obviously caricatural and it doesn’t stop there. However, I don’t really want it. I want everyone near or far to find a little positive nugget there. Readers can tell if I have succeeded.
I hope this book will bring you insights on what pain is, what can be repaired and how, what is not.
Who are you writing this book for?
Very selfish, I wrote it publicly for myself. Even then, very selfish, I wrote it for Antoine. I wanted to give him a form of eternity, to make his life successful, to make him fruitful. So we planted a tree in memory. And now he has books. And then I actually wrote it for everyone. Partly for the bereaved, but especially for those around them. This is not just an individual testimony, in any way scientific or completely methodical, especially since I know very well that everyone feels things in their own way, each case is different, that my loss is still very recent, etc. but whatever I hope This book will bring you insights on pain, what is repairable and how, what is not. I further hope that it will inspire all of you to enjoy life to the fullest. Life is not just about our sorrows or pains, nor about our joys. As such, travel and discovery are an inherent part of my life and so is this book. My Cuban exile is there, for example, directly to the epigraph, which is a quote from Jose Marti. Those of you who read Le Petit Journal will surely find echoes of your own experience in this book.
Why did you choose a nickname?
Losing a loved one is both constructive of who we are and very personal. We want to talk about it, or not. And then the way someone talks about it the way we want to use ourselves is not essential. In short, I take this step of “publishing” but not everyone around me wants to talk about it, or talk about it like that. So I wanted everyone to have a choice; My daughters, in particular. And then these nicknames give me a chance to blink. For example, my great-grandfather was called Antoine Lestang.
How did the people around you react to your approach?
They are surprised, never worried. Among other things, they feared that the practice would force me to stay at the event or be “stuck” in my grief. They also capture the potential rejection or rejection reactions, I think, of the potential complication of surviving a weakening. Perhaps they feared that I would eventually abandon the living. I hope that was not the case. But above all, they were extremely kind, they supported me during the project, they helped me at all levels. And now they are proud, I believe.
Does the invention of writing make you want to write another story?
Yes. But one thing at a time!
Anthony, my son Published by Alexandra Lestang, by Robert Lafont.