How am I?

Since this is the question I’m getting asked most often at the moment – “How are you?”, said with varying degrees of interest/concern – and since I’m giving only standard answers (usually along the lines of “not too bad” / “getting there” / “coping”), I thought I’d try to hammer out a more thorough answer here, if only to clear my head.

Problem is, I don’t really know how to answer that question. How am I? Well, mostly, numb. Tired and irritable, due to my lack of sleep and weird anxiety dreams when I do sleep. Fine one minute, fighting back tears the next – and completely unable to tell what will set me off. I can sometimes talk happily about my sister, and other times even the most offhand comment overheard from somebody talking about their own family will have me in floods.

Trying to get things done, and make an attempt to be sociable, when I have the energy to. Mostly I don’t though – so please consider this an apology to anyone who’s seen me chatting away via twitter whilst ignoring their emails or texts. I’m pretty much doing what I can when I can, and my energy levels are greatly varying.

I’ve been thinking back a lot to when we lost Mum. The fact that Mandi’s death occurred such a short time after Mum’s (the day she died was a year, almost to the day, after Mum’s memorial service) has meant that a lot of this, particularly in the early days, has had an awful kind of familiarity about it. That actually helped quite a bit early on – arranging the funeral for example felt a lot less bewildering since we’d done it before and had a better idea of what to expect. Now though, I’m starting to notice how different things are.

The main difference is, I think, in what I’m afraid of now. After Mum died, I had endless nightmares about terrible things happening to all the people I love. I haven’t had any of those dreams this time round (yet – the nightmares didn’t start until a few months after Mum died, so I suppose it’s entirely possible that I’ve got all that to look forward to). What I do have is an all-pervading sense that something terrible is just around the corner – but I’m not so much afraid of that as resigned to it. I suppose the change is this: before, I was afraid that something terrible could happen. Now, I know that something terrible will happen. I know, in my bones, that the next phone call I get will be someone telling me that someone else I love is dead.

Of course, I don’t know that, not really. I may have “known” it for the last six weeks, but in that time I haven’t actually had any more terrible news. That doesn’t change the fact that every time the phone rings, I feel physically sick. I’m just waiting for the next shoe to drop; for the next catastrophe to hit.

It’s not pleasant living like this. I want to be happy, I want to be able to look forward to things. I just can’t seem to convince myself that there is anything good ahead, even though I know, objectively, that there will be. I was talking to some family friends who are celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary this year, and they mentioned that they’d already started planning a massive party for their silver wedding. My immediate thought – which I didn’t say (I’m not completely lacking in tact!) – was how on earth can they be planning five years ahead? What makes either of them think that they’ll still be here in five years, or that their marriage will still be intact? Now, I know that’s very far from a normal reaction – they’re healthy, and happily married, and I’ve got absolutely no reason to expect they’ll be dead or divorced within five years. But still, there it is. That is how I’m thinking at the moment.

I’m probably sharing a bit too much here. I should stress that I don’t feel like this all the time: I’m having a particularly bad time this weekend, not really sure why. I just wanted to outline a bit of what’s going on in my head, as much to explain it to myself as anything. I’m going to start seeing a counsellor from a week on Monday, so I hope that’ll help me work through some of this.

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  1. I’m sure talking with the counsellor will help, & I hope that writing it all out does too. You’ve had such a lot to deal with – internet ((hugs)) aren’t enough. And whilst there’s nothing that us random internet-ers can say that will make it all better (much as we wish it would), I hope you know we’ve been thinking of you. Please don’t feel like you’re sharing too much if it’s helping you.


    • Thanks Sam. It does help to write about it – I find writing so much easier than talking about it, for some reason. And internet ((hugs)) are lovely 🙂 xx

  2. sparkly_helen

     /  July 1, 2012

    Laura, this sounds so like me after the death of someone I loved. It’s so strange not to be able to predict how you’ll be from one moment to the next and so scary because it feels like nothing will ever change from how it is now. But the cliche about time is a cliche for a reason though. And now I am not in that place. That doesn’t mean I don’t think about Jim every day – I do. But it’s just different in a way I didn’t make happen – time did. I expect this is no comfort to you now, because no words really can be. Take care of yourself, pet. Accept hugs, cry when you want to and when you feel like it’s all too much, stop for a while. x

    • Thank you Helen. It is comforting, actually – it helps to know that other people have been here and come out the other side. Take care of yourself too lovely xx


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