How are you? It seems like such a simple question.
Do you want the common courtesy response?
Or do you want the truth?
I was brought up to be a good girl, mind my manners, and not spend time wondering how genuine the inquiry might be or talking about myself. So, my answer would be: fine. Or some polite version of "fine."
The truth is a wholly different story. And the truth is that I'm never sure how to answer.
It's hard to know what to say when someone dies. We all want to say the "right" thing to the survivor. Like me, you may have read articles advising what to say and what not to say. And yes, there are lists of things that have been said that cause an eye roll (or stomach roll).
I've known other women who have lost their husbands and as I look back I'm relieved that I pretty much said "good" things and did good things.
Yet I had no idea. No idea. They say there are some things in life that you must experience in order to understand. The death of a spouse is definitely one of those things.
I'm numb and lost in a "widow's fog." Really, that's a thing and they say it could go on 1-3 years or longer. I was relieved to learn that there was a name for it and that it was not early onset dementia.
When I'm not numb I feel as if I've fallen into a pit of fire with flames wrecking havoc on my body and mind.
The world as I have known it for 40 years is gone. My hopes, dreams and plans for the future are gone. Those were created and intended for the very specific duo of Gary and Sue. Now I'm alone.
Every single thing reminds me of my husband. Might be a memory from the past or might be some basic everyday kind of thing. Might be a happy memory and might not. Regardless, everything reminds me of my loss. Every single fricking thing.
I'm crying. A lot. I'm forgetful, exhausted and I can't sleep. I can't seem to make decisions or focus on anything. I'm a swirling mass of confusion, chaos, and pain.
It's a dilemma. Because if I am too truthful, you may not ask again. My truth could make you so uncomfortable that you avoid me. I don't want that.
Please don't be offended or take it personally if I tell you that I don't want to go to lunch or I just can't talk on the phone. Sometimes it is just too hard to talk about Gary's death and too hard to try to "be normal."
Please keep asking.
How am I? I'm not okay, but I'm working on it.
I will be okay. Just not today.