I am deeply appreciative of my friends and family who phone or visit me after David’s death, but when they ask this question, I don’t know how to answer. I’m not “fine,” and I’m not “okay.” I could say that I am, but what a lie that would be. So I have tried out various answers, like these:
“I’m taking it one day at a time.”
“I have a lot of support from my family and good friends.”
“I’m putting one foot in front of the other.”
“I’m eating and sleeping.” (Actually, I’m doing a little too much of the one – people have been much too generous bringing tempting sweets – and too little of the other – I’m discovering TV shows I never watched before -- but I’m sure that will change.)
“I’m getting stuff done.” (And there’s a lot to do, I’m finding out.)
“Compared to what?” (This, only to a close friend who appreciates black humor.)
What I find most helpful for well-wishers to ask is, “What did you do today?” or “What are you going to do tomorrow?” Specific questions that I can give specific answers to.
Everyone in this situation is different, of course, and everyone experiences a major loss differently, so I’m not giving any advice – just saying what it’s like for me. I’d like to know how other bereaved people answer this question from kind people who really want to know.