“How are you?” I was thinking about this question the other day while washing the dishes. I found myself staring out the window pondering it without my pot even getting washed.
Probably thinking about it too much but…random thoughts such as this seem to pop up in my brain from time to time. (I told myself I need to start documenting them – they can be less serious than this and rather funny).
But I digress.
That question, to me, “How are you?” at this point in my life, seems like such a loaded question. I’m not sure what people expect to hear. I’m not not even sure what to say.
Society has become so complacent in some ways and I wonder if the question is just one to start a conversation or is it asked because we really care. Yes, I’m including myself in this statement.
My point is – we ask but do we really want to know?
I get asked this question a lot. “How are you?” Maybe it isn’t asked anymore than it was before Lydia died but I think I really just hear it more…meaning I digest it and hear the question for what it really is.
HOW ARE YOU?
So, that’s what got me to thinking of it the other day. When people ask ME, what do they expect to hear? What do I want to tell them?
Do I say…..
“Well, the other day I read something on Facebook about my friend thinking of me at the Walk/Run for Children’s Hospital I usually do but didn’t this year. Then, I saw some posts the same day, remembering Lydia, in regards to The Annual Kleefstra syndrome awareness day. And then I lost it. Yup, cooking dinner I was sobbing and hoping to hell my kids didn’t walk in the kitchen. I couldn’t even control the tears. Then, I was not myself and still in a funk so I spent the rest of the evening in my bedroom waiting so I could go to sleep so it could be over.”
Well, the fact is I rarely, if ever, tell people exactly all of this. A few close to me may know some of these bad times but even then it is the private of my own confines that I often feel these immense bouts of sadness.
And this isn’t certainly what I respond to when asked “how are you?”
I’ve learned people don’t know how to handle grief. Hell, its awkward for me sometimes. But having been through it, I know that a simple “I’m sorry”, hugs, a listening ear and a reassuring friend is what is needed. ACKNOWLEDGING THE LOSS when you know someone wants to talk about it- that’s what that is.
But, most…don’t know what to say to grief. We, I think, innately don’t like sadness. It makes us uncomfortable. But yet, most of us are very compassionate people. However, we find ourselves at a loss for words IN FRONT of those dealing with sadness or grief.
So, here is my dilemma when asked “how are you” what do I say?:
I’m afraid to say “well, not great” because I’m not always bad. I get up, I laugh, I smile and I have as much fun as I can with the life God has now given me. Of course, that could change on a dime.
And even if my day is not a good one, I hate to say “not great” because that doesn’t reflect my life. It doesn’t reflect every day. I am living, breathing, healthy (except a few aches and pains in the back and knee), have a roof, food, and my family.
I would hate for people to hear “not great” and believe that is indicative of who I am everyday or all the time.
I’m afraid to say “good.” I’m not always good. And if I say “good,” will those that don’t understand grief walk away from our conversation saying “wow, she really is taking the death of her daughter well – she’s doing really good” and not consider this is a day-to-day journey?
Because it is a journey for the rest of my life. Feelings can go from good to shitty in minutes and then back again.
I’ll be honest – she’s on my mind a large portion of the day.
There is a hole that can’t be filled .
I still drive down the road and say “is she really gone?” – this happens weekly…still.
Bringing me back to “how are you?”
I don’t know why I’ve thought about this so much, but I have. I want to believe that asking me how I’m doing isn’t always just a cordial beginning but a true, caring question.
What do I say? What does society expect? I don’t want people to never ask me how I am (which will probably happen after this post).
So…..I’ve come up with a standard line. I can’t tell you if it is right or wrong but it is one I feel most comfortable with – right now. It isn’t overly cheery and not overly Debbie Downer…it is…my truth.
When asked, I say “ok, it’s day-to-day.” If given the opportunity I may add: “Some good moments, some bad – but we are doing ok – that’s how I (or we) are doing.”
I now feel like I just unveiled something huge, but it isn’t…and I chuckle. You’re probably thinking “that’s it?” You’ve thought about this question for that long and that’s all you could come up with.
Yup. that’s it.
But, here’s the thing – I’m welcome to suggestions. Maybe that isn’t how you want me to answer. Maybe you’d rather I respond “good, how are you?” and we move on from there.
But, if your asking me I feel like I have to be honest. But if this world doesn’t want honesty…if they want just cordial conversation starters, I get that too.
You might be wondering how people respond to me with the day-to-day statement. I think most are taken aback but suddenly realize I really took their question to heart – they really wanted to know how I was and I answered in the most truthful way I knew how without trying to make the person uncomfortable.
Most just respond with “that’s all you can do” or “that’s good” or simply nod.
I’m not sad all the time, nor do I want to be. But, the true fact of the matter is life for me is day-to-day.
If I said it once, I’ll say it again…the first year you are numb – you barely know what you ate earlier in the day much less the day before. You live in this persistent fog you can’t crawl your way out of no matter how much you try.
Year two – a huge giant slap in the face or punch in the gut. HOLY SHIT – this really happened. Now what? You try fighting it. You question it. You find ways around it. But the game of dodge ball doesn’t always work and occasionally in year 2 the ball hits you in the gut. Front and center and VERY REAL. You get up and you keep trying to dodge it but you eventually succumb.
My point of this reminder is…no matter what year it is…losing a child is everyday to the person who lost. So, there is no time limit on when I’ll get to “good.” I’m hoping (and they say) that as years pass you’re more good than bad. Less tears, more laughs. But, the hole will always remain.
Maybe down the road I’ll have a different answer. I don’t know. But for now…grief is what it is…day….to….day.