Please Don’t Ask Me How I Am…

I know this sounds both rude and weird but let me explain.

just trying to hold things together...

I’m trying to hold things together…

I don’t know if everyone that experiences a loss feels this way or not. Maybe it’s just people who have lost a piece of themselves..a part of their heart, a human being they carried inside their own body for nine months and raised to watch them become an adult and have children of their own. Maybe it’s only people like me that can truly understand how I feel when someone asks me this question, “how are you?”

I don’t know how I am. I don’t know how to answer this question. I get asked this every day and every day I don’t know how to answer. I just look at them and finally say, “I’m doing ok.” What am I supposed to say? What do they want me to say? Do they really want to know the truth? Because on the rare occasion I do try to put into words how I really feel, I see the look on their face and it tells me they really didn’t want to know. It is a look like, oh, no, she is really going to tell me and I don’t want to know, because I won’t know what to say to her.

I get it. I know it is difficult being the friend or family member of someone who has lost a child. I didn’t know what to say to others when I found out they had experienced this kind of loss. I do now. I love all the heartfelt emails, texts and cards people have sent and the words they so thoughtfully wrote to me have warmed my heart. I think it is easier to write than to speak, especially when you are face to face with the person who just lost their child.

I don’t want to be rude and I know it seems that I am not grateful for the people who take the time to ask me this question. I love that you take the time to ask me anything at all, just be aware I really don’t know how to answer. I want you to keep talking to me and allowing me to talk about my son. I feel like people are afraid I will break down and they won’t know how to handle the situation. It helps me to talk about it, but if it makes you uncomfortable then don’t ask. “if you don’t want to hear the answers, don’t ask the questions.”

There is another part of this that is hard as well. I don’t know how to act. I am out with family members or friends and we are laughing and having a great time and suddenly it dawns on me, what if someone sees me laughing. Why is she laughing? She just lost her son, she must not care. But then what is the answer? To look sad all the time and bring everyone down and make them feel sad too. I don’t want people to feel sad and feel so bad they don’t want to even be around me. I am aware of how you must feel and the thin tightrope you think you have to stay on. Ask me real questions, ask me tough questions. I may or may not have the answer but it will be better than asking me how I am.

I have so many days where I feel strong and happy and ready to take on the world. And then there are days when I have a hard time doing just about anything at all. I have had many losses in my life. Many. To have lost my Dad at such a long age was very hard. My Mom was in decline for years and it was almost a blessing that she finally gave up the fight. I lost my sister, my only sibling in a terrible freak accident that no one could have foreseen and was one of the hardest things I ever had to go through. But this. Losing my son, is…you know what, I can’t even put it into words. I have been sitting here trying to come up with the right words and they are none.

I am trying to be strong for my family. I know they all have had a hard time with this as well. I am blessed to have family and friends that have held me up and supported me through this horrific time in my life. I don’t know what I would have done without them. I don’t know what the future holds. I do know I am not the same person I was two months ago. I will never be that person again. I know it will get easier, but it will never be the same. And neither will I. I am on a this journey I never expected to be on and I hope everyone will stay with me as I figure out who I am now and where I am headed.

In closing, please don’t ask me how I am… because I don’t really know the answer. I usually end with a question, but I don’t have one. So instead I will end with two beautiful quotes I have found.

“It has been said that time heals all wounds. I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind protecting it’s sanity covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens, but it’s never gone. ~ Rose Kennedy

“Do not judge the bereaved mother. She comes in many forms. She is breathing, but she is dying. She may look young, but inside she has become ancient. She smiles, but her heart sobs. She walks, she talks, she cooks, she IS, but she IS NOT, all at once. She is here, but a part of her is elsewhere for eternity.” ~ Unknown




32 thoughts on “Please Don’t Ask Me How I Am…

  1. I am sending you love today. I so understand how you feel. Some day’s I don’t even know what to say about the death of my son. A few weeks after he died I went to the hairdresser and she said how is your family and I said Fine. I really didn’t even know what to say to her and she is someone I really don’t know all that well. What has helped me is going back to Alanon. Those people really do understand and funny some of my dearest friends are addiction counselors. Love to you my sweet, dear friend. Try to have a good day today. Meditation and prayer has also helped me.

  2. Sending you a huge hug. Hoping you feel and find some peace. I don’t think there is a right or a wrong way to process a loss, especially of a child. I think you just take each moment as you can and move forward and live in a way that your loved one would want for you while still holding them tenderly and completely in your heart.

  3. No, it never heals, never gets “better”, just…different. I lost my child in 2007 and I can say only that, eventually, the grief turns to sorrow, which is somehow much lighter and easier to live with. In sorrow, we feel the loss, but also the love, and when we think of our child at that point we smile or laugh at the memory instead of weeping. In that kinder, gentler state of sorrow gratitude trumps grief, love trumps loss, and the thousand memories of every sacred smile, every treasured touch, is a comfort that carries us forward. This blessed state of gratitude and comfort and peace was long, long in coming to me. At only two months after her death I was still certain that my own life was over. That nothing would ever be truly important again. That the happiest and most worthwhile part of my life was over. I wish I was lucky enough to have had someone who had lost a child who could have told me that what I was thinking and feeling then was part of the process, that those thoughts and feelings would pass. I wish someone with this experience was around to assure me that the time would come when I would remember her without pain, and to remind me that my purpose, my worth, and my value are within me, that they do not come from the people that I love, no matter how much I love them. That my life still had worth because I had worth, and that it was okay to just live for myself. It wouldn’t make me an uncaring monster. Just a survivor.

    Many blessings to you on this long and painful journey. If you get the chance to laugh, take it. It will save you.

    1. Stephanie, thank you so much for sharing this with me. I am glad I do have a few people who have also been on this journey. It is not one we would want for anyone. And I do laugh, thankfully I have my grand kids who make that happen. Hugs to you and thanks again.

  4. well said….and Rose Kennedy…she lost Joe and Kathleen and John and Bobby, two to the war and two to assassination…losing a child is the worst loss…PERIOD…I think that is what you say to people…..I hope life progresses so that I don’t outlive my kids and grandkids. I outlived my husband of 43 years. But it was inevitable one of us would go first…Depending on how you look at it, I drew the short straw…Take care….

  5. Dear Renee, Everything you wrote is what I am feeling too. I find that people don’t know what to say to me now. I think some even avoid me. I really don’t know how I am either ,but I do know I am not the same person and never will be. I have lost a brother and parents and cousins and friends, but a child is the worst of all losses ever. I know exactly how you feel and my heart goes out to you…..When someone asks me how I am doing, I just say ok, as good as I can with what happened….but they will never know the pain my heart feels . It is like a nightmare that never goes away. I have had my son almost my whole life since I was 18 , so not to have him now is the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with. A part of me is missing. .You have to experience it to know……… I just wanted you to know you are not alone for I understand everything you are going through……..Prayers for healing and love and hugs to you !!

    1. Judy, you do know…thank you so much for understanding my pain. We need to get together and soon…Love and hugs to you too!

  6. I’m so sorry for your loss…and thanks for the reminder that “I’ve been thinking of you” might be an easier greeting than “how are you?” (especially when it’s true). May you find love and light.

    1. Thank you so much Kim! You are right, that would definitely be a better greeting. My best friend just asked me today, “how are you?” I said read my blog…

  7. I’m so very sorry to hear what you are going through. I am reminded of my best friend, who lost her daughter 13 years ago. Unbearable pain. And I can also relate to the fact that most don’t want to hear about your pain. It brings it too close to their lives. I’m sorry we are all so unable to do much to help.

    1. Thank you Laura for your kind words. I don’t think we know how to help one another when it is a tragedy such as a death of a child. I know I didn’t until it happened to me. Thanks again.

  8. This is hard to respond to, because you are in a world of grief I can’t begin to imagine. But I feel for you, and I feel that with time, it has to be less crushing because it just can’t stay the same. Your writing, your honesty, your grief and sadness will work together to keep you afloat, I hope. I hope. With all my heart.

    But Renee, the last thing you should give a thought to is whether or not you’re answering an inquiry properly. If I were to approach you, I’d be so lost for a thing to say that came even close to the sorrow I’d be feeling for you, I’m positive it would tumble out just that way. And to that question, if you believe as you should, that it comes from a place of deep compassion, just say what you said to us:

    “I really don’t know how to answer that yet.”

    You’ll be in my thoughts for a while. Peace to you.

  9. There is no way to know how others feel, we should just say, I hope you find some peace. Thank you for this stirring and honest post. Hope this week treats you kindly.

    1. Donna, you are right, there really is no way for us to know how someone else is feeling about anything. Thank you so much!

  10. This is such an honest portrayal. Thank you for sharing how you are feeling as best that you can. I hope it is therapeutic somehow to try to express the unexpressable. I wish you comfort.

  11. Dear Renee, thank you for sharing, really!!! For those of us who haven’t lost someone quite as dear as a child, it’s nice to know what you’re feeling inside so that we can be more aware of what we say & how we word our questions. ‘How are you doing’ is such an automatic question to ask so innocently, not taking into consideration the situation. I will be more mindful after reading your blog! You’re in my thoughts & prayers & they will continue – the heartache never ends! Bless you! <3

I Love Hearing From You...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.