There was a time when the hardest question was “how are you?” It was the Trojan horse of greetings. People welcomed it into daily conversation where it laid bare my defenseless heart.
The worst part is there’s no great answer when you’re not doing so great. Is it better to lie, or cry and make others squirm? Usually, I’d choose the former since public displays of despair never went over so well. So I’d utter a quick “fine” or “good,” while avoiding eye contact. Of course, the truth more closely resembled, “My world is quaking, I can’t breathe, and the jury is still out on whether things will get better.” Or, as Nora McInerny, the unswervingly funny author says, “How am I? Terrible, thanks for asking.”
What’s kind of amazing is I’ve been there. I’ve dwelled in the dark chasm of grief where the most innocent questions cut to the heart. And I’m not there anymore. Those three little words don’t disarm like they used to. “I’m okay,” can now be said without hesitation or fabrication. That’s not to say I’m okay all the time. We may never fully heal from our losses. But, I’m not even sure that’s the goal anymore.
Things change. Grief changes. And with it, so too does the gravity of the lightest questions. Here’s a funny thing that’s also happening: while growing more comfortable with my new normal, the discomfort of life is also becoming more comfortable. So when I ask how you’re doing, perhaps we can agree on throwing social graces to the wind if “fine” is far from your truth. Your tears are ok. So is your pain, vulnerability, uncertainty, and fears. I want to hear your truth – raw and bare, shadow and light, gloom and glory. So, do tell. How are you? Really, how are you?
~Robynne Boyd, Goodgrief App Co-founder