Answering a Tough Question
People are always asking me "How are you doing?" I don't want to get into it, so what should I say?
By Doreen S. Marshall, Ph.D., Psychologist and Survivor
"I think it's particularly important to feel that you can talk about the suicide when you need to, but that you don't always have to talk about it either. It is very important to have times when you can talk about it (such as in a support group, with a close friend or with a therapist) and times when you have a break from talking about the suicide. People who ask are often well-meaning, but do not always have a good sense of what you need in that moment.
"I found that it was easier to try to stay away from saying, 'Fine,' in response to, 'How are you doing?' People usually didn't believe it and it sometimes prompted more probing or a reluctance to ask later.
I found it more helpful to try to respond with something like, 'Today, it's just too painful to talk about,' on days when I didn't want to talk about it. Other days I would say something like, 'I'm managing ok, taking it a day at a time' or 'I'm having a hard day, but doing the best I can.'
I found that those kinds of statements helped those around me to understand that grieving a suicide is a process, and that no one day determines how you will feel the rest of your life about this loss. It also helped me to remember that if I was honest about my feelings, people would have a better sense of how to support me in my grief than if I always tried to hide those feelings.