Softly, As I Leave You

I live with the hope that Shayne’s own words—filled with angst, pain, humor, and tenderness—will inspire those who struggle with mental illness as well as the family members who love and care for them.”  Sharon Kohout, Shayne’s mother

Shayne was thirty-three when she took her life.

A year later, in the novel by Jeanne S. Guerra, Shayne’s family gathers to wade through the stack of journals she left behind.

During the weekend retreat, they are led by a psychiatrist with the goal of better understanding what happened and why. Can Britt cool his anger at his departed sister? Can the family finally accept her loss? Is it possible her journal writings might inspire others to survive?

Softly, As I Leave You is a story interwoven with the actual unedited journal writings of Shayne, a talented, established actor in Atlanta.

In Shayne’s own words, readers are taken through raw emotions of self-loathing, anorexia, mutilation and manipulation as her most intimate secrets are slowly revealed to the family. Her phoenix-like relationship syndrome time and again made her reach out to God, therapists and men to pull her from the vortex of sadness.

Through her writings, will Shayne come back to help her beloved family?

This poignant, often humorous novel centers around the real life of Shayne Ann Kohout, the beautiful person everyone wanted to be. Everyone except Shayne.

Watch a YouTube video of an excerpt from the book: Shayne’s own powerful definition of her illness at

Softly as I Leave You: A Mental Illness Description


REVIEWS: “This is a unique perspective of the factors leading up to suicide.  Shayne was a beautiful young woman with a strong and loving family. I did not know Shayne in life, but I feel I know her now, as her actual journals, which make up a large percentage of this book, are remarkably thoughtful and insightful.  Writing this book must have been very difficult, and I commend the author, as well as Shayne’s family, for having the courage to bring Shayne’s story to light.  By doing so, they have ensured that Shayne will never be forgotten.” —Chris McKinney

“.. was engrossed from the very first words.”  —Carol Lagasse

“This story will touch your heart and soul. It is a close glimpse at the pain experienced by the surviving family and friends when a loved one takes their own life. This book opens your eyes to the pain and sadness of mental illness, is well written and incorporating the actual writings of Shayne brings this beautiful woman to life once more.”   —Joseph Mitchell

“Beautiful, and Gut Wrenching! I don’t know if we will ever understand mental illness, but there is true insight in this book.”  —Betty Blake

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