Can't cope with: 'How are you?'

I’m finding it increasingly hard to cope with people asking me repeatedly how I am. It’s so hard to be honest because if I was honest I’d say imagine the worst pain, so much that you feel like dying yourself and nothing to make it better. That is how I am!

Nobody can or want to cope with the truth but I wish I didn’t have to deal with the questions. The same goes for saying, are you better now? How do you answer that?

Sorry for ranting but I’m feeling so incredibly sad all the time and don’t know how to deal with other people.

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Hi Zahn,

I understand where you are coming from. I called into work yesterday & a lady said Hi Sue are you OK ? & I thought “am I ok ! Am I ok ??? No I’ll never be ok again” but I just smiled.

I think people don’t mean to be cruel they don’t know what else to say. It’s better than just looking away & saying nothing I suppose. I read somewhere that a good thing to say is " I’m surviving"

I try to think people just don’t know what to say. It must be so hard to speak to someone recently bereaved & im just grateful people ask to be honest.

It’s ok to be angry you must deal with it how is best for you. I am so very very sad but it is an alien feeling for me I’m usually an upbeat person & I don’t like being a sad person.

Take Care


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I also just smile but it takes such an effort to be at work and just cope with my very demanding job, when people ask how I am, I suddenly feel all the emotion coming back and I cannot afford to start crying as I’ll never stop!

I’m not angry at anybody, I know they mean well and don’t know what to say but I am angry with myself as I can’t cope with the questions.
Maybe I’m trying to pretend it didn’t happen and it’s just not working.

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Oh Zahn don’t be hard on yourself . The questions come out of the blue sometimes don’t they & wrong foot us .

I’m struggling getting back to work I’ve started popping in for a couple of hours but can’t concentrate & the last time I was in I just had to leave my desk & broke my heart.

I know once I manage to go back properly it will be a good diversion , they are being really good with me & telling me there is no pressure from them but I feel pressure inside to try.

How long was it before you were back at work ? Do you think it helps a bit ?

Sue X

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When ever I get asked that, I just say, “good days and bad days, hopefully eventually the good will out way the bad, but thank you for asking”. Most people just reply " thats understandable", but it also lets them know, I still get upset etc without having to go into too many details.

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I reply, ‘I have moments, some days not too good’ again gets the message over which people seem to understand. I know it is meant in kindness just is so difficult though.

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I totally get this. I usually say I’m up and down really. I don’t think people always want the truth, which is “I’m having the worst time of my life, I have never felt so bad, and its horrible” the other thing I struggle with is when people say I’m sorry. How are you meant to answer that?

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I have tried at times to plan some responses such as ‘up and down’ and ‘making progress’ but sometimes I just sound downright miserable about it and then I feel kind of guilty afterwards. It almost seems disloyal to start moving on and sound as if things are improving and I don’t want people to think it is all alright now, it certainly isn’t.

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It is hard to answer that sort of question and the how you feeling one really upsets me cos how do u think I’m feeling iv lost my partner of 20 years and my world has fallen apart but I never say that I just end up saying I’m OK these questions are never gonna get easier to answer unless people want to hear the truth and like zahn says when people ask these questions I feel the emotion take hold again and that’s when I cry

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It is so so difficult when anyone asks this and it often comes out of the blue. I find myself avoiding anywhere there is a high chance of bumping into people I know. I do appreciate anyone who has the bottle to actually ask as many simply avoid it. I hope I don’t appear offhand, it’s often just trying to keep composure.

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I’m fed up with “How are you?” too, however my biggest bugbear is “strong”, if one more person tells me i am it or must be it… I will not be responsible for my actions,!!

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The one that baffles me is being told I look well! I don’t know whether that suggests that I must be ok mentally too, and I wonder whether maybe I should work at looking more haggard! It is clearly meant to be a good thing when I am told it but it certainly doesn’t feel it.

I know people are trying to express concern and that they care in the only way they can. But like other contributors, it makes me cry every time. My responses vary, ‘surviving’, ‘still here’, ‘Keeping going’ are all what they want to here, because you can’t tell them that you are thinking of any other alternative (it isn’t an option, but carrying on without him feelsmimpossible)

My initial inclination is to tell people how I really feel and it is taking me a long time to realise that is not what they want. I know Andy would want me to be ok, but it seems wrong to tell people I am doing well (even if it had been true) when he is such a big loss.

i too get this it makes me want to cry ,also when people who usually talk to you cross over the road to avoid you,or like my neighbour act as though my husband has never existed,i also hate the oh you are a strong person you will cope i don’t feel as though i am coping my heart is in pieces

The people who appear strong are probably most at risk as they are not acknowledging and dealing with the situation. Of course your heart is in pieces. This is something we can’t hide from, if you pretend to yourself that things are fine it will catch up with you later. Can you find any support locally?

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hi trishj sorry no ive only just lost my oh 6 weeks ago and I miss him so much I am trying to keep myself occupied but finding sundays and night time the lonliest times

I am so sorry. Yes, keeping occupied is the answer but Sundays are not so easy to fill. There are odd things go on I guess but it is knowing how to find them. I think one advantage of online groups like this is that you can actually use them in the middle of the night if you need.
I have needed activities that keep my mind occupied, not that they made me forget but they are better than activities which are just physical and let my mind wander. But I have tried all sorts rather than be sat doing nothing, things I would have never tried in the normal way.

I lost my husband to cancer a month ago yesterday and like you all struggle with the same question, I just say ‘I’m ok, you know’ truth is, I think the people who know me well, know that it’s just a response, just a reply, not really how I’m feeling. If I keep busy I can get through the day it’s when people ask me or I think about my life now or what’s happened I get upset, but then I think it’s ok to do that, we are all grieving.

We all have a right to feel how we want to feel. We do enough of forcing ourselves to do whatever has to be done, often this is only when necessary. Pretending, coping, exsisting, not always letting others know how we feel. We can grieve for as long as we want to, gradually emerging a little at a time when we are ready.

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