It’s common for people to ask, “How are you?” But when you are a new widow, sometimes it is hard to know what to say back. Are they really wondering- an actual interest, or is it just what people say as a greeting?
Answering the question, “How are you?” … First thing is to figure out if they really want to know.
If you know teh person does NOT really want to know, I usually start with, “Thank you for asking… ” (This makes them realize what they just said!). Then you could answer in one of these ways… (Thanks to my widow group who gave me their answers)
-I have seen better days.
-Unbelievable. (The vagueness works for everything)
-I’m taking it day by day.
-I’m alive. God gave me another day.
-Hanging in there.
-I’m awful. How are you?
-I’m doing the best I can.
-The Johnny Cash answer, “Five feet high and rising!”
-I’m putting one foot in front of the other.
-I’m hanging in there.
-Don’t ask if you are not prepared for the truth!
-Still on top of the dirt and not under it.
-This is a really tough road.
-I have good days and bad days, but we are functional. Today is a ___ day.
-I’m working on myself day by day.
-Managing. Thanks for asking.
-I’m moving forward.
-Getting used to our new normal.
-If I’m feeling sarcastic I say, “Livin’ the dream!”
-I am still standing!
If you know they are really wondering how you are, consider answering truthfully. That is the only way that people are going to start to understand grief. Hiding feelings or worrying about people being uncomfortable around any kind of difficulty may have caused a mental health crisis in our country. Again, I usually start (or end) with, “Thank you for asking”, then…
-I am constantly struggling because I miss him so much every day.
-I’m managing. It is NOT easy.
-I still can’t believe this is happening, but we are getting through it day by day.
-I’m not ok. I think everyone wants to believe that I’ve gotten through it because I am still surviving. The truth is I’m not through anything and I’m not ok.
-I’m angry all of the time and that’s frustrating.
-This is the hardest thing I have ever gone through.
-Today I’m actually good.
-Every day is a gift, so I am making the most of it.
I usually end the phrase with something positive because I’m that way. It’s usually something like:
-I am enjoying spending time with all of my children, though, and I act as if this is my last day because I don’t take ONE DAY for granted.
– I have learned that LOVE is a powerful thing. When you love someone so deeply, of course, it is going to be hard when they are gone.
-I have learned so much from this experience and am grateful for that.
-I am a much more compassionate person having gone through this.
-I have realized how many little things don’t matter, so I argue less and love more.
When answering the question, your personality has a lot to do with how you answer. This is a new road that you are on, and so is everyone else. I decided to be quite open so others learned right along with me. It also helped to be honest, even though at times it felt awkward, but this widow world is a weird new world for all of us!