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Becoming Real in the Aftermath of Suicide
Grief Journey

Becoming Real in the Aftermath of Suicide

We all know this to be a truly cruddy experience and journey. Really, it is just horrendous. There is no escaping the pain of it, the gut-punching realness of it, the self-humbling awareness that it brings. In the very dark days, there is no escape, no matter what we do or whatever anyone says.

We learn to adapt and drive through it. I’m not sure how, but we do. We have moments of realness that bring us to our knees. No matter how far we travel on this “yellow brick road” there are songs, movies, memories, situations, words, and emotions that return us to that point again and again – and we remember what it is to be real.

It is a state of truth, like none other. We assess, we review, we question, we beg, we plead, we forgive, we pray, we consider, we improve our beings, we change, we break. No-one would willingly participate in this. Where is the strength to take another step? Where is the desire to raise our heads? How do we find the reasons to get up?

I heard a song today. I have avoided it for quite a while because it quite literally stops me in my steps and voids anything that I am doing or thinking at the moment. For once I didn’t cry but I did remember everything as clearly as day one, with far less horror but with rich sadness.

It must be this way because our lives are not as rich without them. But, time, is truly the great healer. In this, there is a perverse glimmer of hope. We adapt. It’s impossible in the early days to consider this, really it is. It’s daunting in the progressing years to consider it will still affect us, but it does.

I wanted to tell all you amateurs and professionals of this remarkable two-step, I think it’s OK to be real – especially if you are forced into this situation, which let’s face it we all are. It is not desired. It is not asked for. Down the line, it stops being soul-crushing, but it always does stay real.

There was this person, who you felt a multitude for. This person existed, they loved, they laughed, they stole the show and they brought unimaginable pain – but I think not of their imagination. I truly believe that not one of our lost loves comprehended the world of hurt that was left in the wake of their decision.

My point…..well, these individuals that brought such unintended consequences to us also gave us realness. It is a gift not often considered, but in time we are able to see it, we will all be real at some point. The Velveteen Rabbit said it best:

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

“Once you are real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.” ~Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit

For those struggling to put one foot in front of the other today. May I say – you are real, and I admire you and care for you because of it. I relate to you, I support you, I will for you – for in becoming real, you become your true self, there can be no bigger success- they helped us to become this.

I will always honour my love for this not asked for, but gratefully accepted gift as only he could have given it to me. May your realness support and inspire you.

Have courage, be fearless.


About the Author

Heidi Botterill

Heidi lost her long-time love and partner from the consequences of suicide in 2012. She found and joined the Alliance of Hope 18 months after. It was a lifeline with folks who understood what a dark and difficult path it was to walk. Now, with some time under her belt she offers thoughts and a shoulder to lean on for those walking the same path. The experience changed her and her life irrevocably, once a survivor of this, always a champion for those who are forced to navigate their way through it.Read More »