Donna had asked the question last week about what to say when someone asks how you are feeling and we had an overwhelming response to her question. Thank you to all who wrote to offer suggestions. They were wonderful and I am going to make my comments short this week, so you can read the replies.
This week’s question comes from Shannon: What are the deficits that you seem to be left with following the loss of our sons, daughters, brothers, fathers, sisters, or mothers? I am constantly worried that despite all my efforts, I believe my MEMORY has been affected even after several yrs. I function ok and do my job, but I do forget small things that I never did before. I can't handle the load of details and remember them well, as I used to. Are there any life changes you have noticed since the death of your loved one?
Thanks in advance for your replies,
What do I say when people ask me how I am feeling?
Donna, they know the answer to the question. When people ask me I just tell them I am fine and busy with my music and family. They don't want to hear how you really are. It's a pity but that is the way most people are. They want to hear an answer to that question that doesn't involve them conversing about it. If you have really amazing friends then you can tell them the truth - you feel like crap and miss your loved one; that your heart has a hole in it that is not repairable. We will listen to you ‘cause we are going through the same. Our hearts ache and it doesn't get lessened by time. It just becomes easier to move the hurt around so you can function.
I think most people asking "how are you?" are saying a typical greeting rather than expecting anyone to launch into what's going on in their lives. My reply before Jimmy was killed was "GREAT!!" because that was how I felt. Now I say "Ok". Saying anything more just makes people uncomfortable.
John sent me an email and I am summarizing it here. John’s family has started a project to help Veteran owned businesses in honor of their loved one, so he suggested that when people ask how he is feeling, he says OK and then tells them about the project which turns the conversation from one of sadness to one of hope.
My son was killed on September 28, 2011 in Afghanistan. The end of the first year of his death is closing in on me and I am feeling the old intense feelings that I felt the first month of his death. So, what do I say to people when they ask how I am doing? I tell them the truth--I tell them I am having a very hard time reconciling with our family’s loss and that I am functioning positively and meeting life's expectations. I tell them I have some happy times and I have some bad times. I thank them for caring enough to ask and I ask them to pray for us. Most people can handle that answer and they know it is probably the truth. And, it isn't Pollyanna!
I tell them the truth. A true friend won't mind hearing exactly how you feel, but keep it simple. Although they are our friends and want to be there for us to help us with our healing and our process, by telling them too much in detail how we feel can make them very uncomfortable and leave them feeling even more helpless than they already do. Our friends want to be there and help us, no one likes to see their friends hurting or feeling sad, so I say tell them how you feel but limit how much you say and allow them to try and comfort you through their words, their actions, and in some cases just their silence as they sit there listening to you express your feelings to them.
When someone asks me how I am feeling, my response depends on who is asking. If it is a good friend and they want the truth, I would tell them this. I am doing as good as can be expected. Even though 1 year has passed, I am sick and tired of feeling like I can't control my emotions. I cry for the smallest reasons. I am sick of not being in control of my emotions, and also feel guilty and selfish whenever the emotions get the best of me. (What is that about??) I miss my son terribly. I would have given my life for his, if it could have saved him. But I wasn't asked. That wasn't the plan, and I have to live with it.
If the person asking is just being polite, my response is that I am doing my best in the worst situation. That's all that can be expected. Thank you for asking
Good morning, everyone. In answer to Donna's question, I tell people the truth. I tell them I wish I could say I am fine, but I know I will never feel the same again. I say the truth. I have good days and I have days that I miss Tony so much. He was 23 and was my youngest of 3 sons. There are days when I laugh and enjoy doing things around the house or being out with a friend. That always helps to get my mind off my grief. Friends get tired of hearing about how much I am hurting. I also admit that there are days when I cry so much. I feel a sense of relief after a good cry. If someone is sarcastic to me, and tells me to move on with my life, I ask them "How would you feel if your son or daughter died?" That usually quiets them. It's tough. No one understands but us. God be with all of you.
Being six years out from the loss of our daughter, I hear this question a lot. Our community watched us turn into ourselves, at first isolating; now we are at a private withdrawal. We tell people we are coping. Beth was and is a big part of our life. We wouldn't have traded a minute of those almost 24 years to have less pain. We understand that it hurts because we love. We explain to people that losing a child is like an endless hole in your heart. Nothing can fill the hole but you learn to keep living with it.
Over the past 4 years with my son Griff in heaven...when someone asks me how I feel...I am truthful about how much I miss Griff & how life is empty & without purpose & most days are sad days.. I also tell them how I hibernate a lot & let them know they are welcome to stop by anytime.
Donna, please don't feel guilty about sorrow & missing...you are allowed to be honest about your feelings. If someone insensitive expects you to answer "Fine"..then they are just that...insensitive & uncaring.
I wonder if the person is really interested in my feelings? Or is it a perfunctory question," how is the weather". I sometimes feel okay and other times I feel terrible. I would like people to know that asking the question also requires a response. Are they ready to listen? I try not to unload a burden, but, it would be nice to say how I truly feel. I want to say 'thank you" for your concern. Then talk about what I am feeling. Maybe, people who have never felt the loss as deeply as we have understand the depth of our despair, or, our want to heal. The road to recovery in my mind is the ability to get rid of the grief, and express my feelings. They may be "good" or "bad". I hope the listener is ready to really lend an ear.
I cannot reply with anything coherent, so I continually use the image of the roller coaster: up and down, around and around.
At this time in my life I would say that I feel very grateful to be able to do so much and to give back to so many people in spite of what happened in my life. Giving to others is certainly a gift that I have nourished and have incorporated into my daily "walk" of life!
From Donn and Jeanne:
It has been almost two years to the week since our son, Todd, was killed. In the first few months, that question was frequently asked usually after expressions of how sorry the person was for our loss. In the next 6-8 months we found the question was either not asked or in many cases the people either tried to skirt the question or avoid any conversation related to our loss because it likely made them very sad or uncomfortable. During the second year that question was almost never asked, perhaps because people thought by now we had moved on. Somehow - that is the easiest thing to believe when you are not the survivor. It is not true and there have been many times we wish the question had been asked. By caring and asking, we would then know how the public we come across still remembers and honors our son. When we are asked, we always try to give an upbeat response such as - "we will always miss him, always think of him with sadness, but also pride. We hope that you will remember his life and sacrifice. Thank you for caring". In that response, we try to make it more about him than us. In that process we almost always feel better.