It’s a question we all hear almost every day. “Hi, how are you?” But it has a different feel when you have recently lost someone you love. It just feels heavier. So how do you deal with that question?
It may be tempting to just sort of brush it off saying something along the lines of, “Oh, I’m fine” or “I’m doing ok.” It’s easy to go back into before your loss mode. But, are you fine? How do you get back to being truly fine?
Consider opening your heart to your closest friends. Let them in a little. The ones who are especially close to you truly do want to help. If you are struggling, say so. Then be specific about what is hard: “I hate eating alone. Sunday evenings are really lonely, I miss going to church with Frank.” Give people a little information that will give them some idea of how they might help.
As the days, weeks, and months pass and you are still struggling to find peace and normalcy, you might feel like your sadness is becoming a burden to your friends. So, you just clam up. No one wants to feel like a burden.
First, understand that you are not a burden to your family and friends. It is simply time to change your healing process.
When confronted with the “how are you” question, consider giving an honest but brief response followed by something positive about your progress. “I still miss Frank terribly, but I have started having Sunday dinner with my son and his family and that really helps.” You might even use this moment to take the bull by the horns and suggest something that you would enjoy doing with your friend. Ask if they would be available for lunch, dinner, or a movie. Take charge of your grief.
If your grief is stealing your gratitude and you really cannot see where you are doing better, try this. First thing, when you wake up in the morning, think about yesterday. What was good? Make a note of just three of your blessings. Maybe you enjoyed a long telephone call with your brother, or you finally made a decent egg for yourself, perhaps you have baby bunnies in your garden. Where were the little moments of gratitude?
If you look for little joys, you will find them. Those joys will feed your healing and grow the positives in your world. Don’t be afraid of the joy your life has to offer. Joy does exist after death. Don’t confuse your joy with not caring for your loved one. Make it a tribute to the joy he/she brought to your life. Making a habit of looking for and noting what you are grateful for in your life really can help.