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