For Simon to commit suicide was almost beyond my endurance. Yet nevertheless, we do endure, and we do laugh, and we do go on contributing to our family and friends, and that, I suppose, is the miracle. (Lois)
I count myself lucky in an odd sense, because I'm repairing damaged goods, and confident of being repairable. (Kevin)
In the weeks and months of their bereavement survivors may feel that they will never be able to live with what has happened. But gradually a way through may begin to seem possible. Two and a half years after his sister's suicide, Peter can look back and see how things have changed:
It has got better, and it's got calmer, and life's gone on, and one finds one's way through…I don't believe you get over it, but I just think you learn how to accommodate it, and how to deal with it, and how to cope with it.
Of the fifty people I interviewed, over half had been bereaved for less than three years, some of these for less than a year-while one person had been a survivor for over fifty years (see Appendix 2). The number of years, though, does not tell the whole story: people move through the process of grieving at their own pace, healing takes place at different rates, and two people who have been bereaved for the same length of time will not necessarily be at the same stage.
Sometimes survivors can look back and see the different stretches of road along which they have travelled, recognising the points when they seemed to reach a new stage. Brian can recall three distinct phases in the two years following his wife's suicide:
first of all it's deadfully slow…there's a numbness that must have gone on for nine months or a year… Then I think one comes out of the numb period, and that's hard too, because as you thaw, you think