"I’m Fine," The Universal Response From Grievers

In response to "how are you," "I'm fine" seems to be a universal reply from people sufferingThis suffering can be the result of pain, grief, illness, family upheaval, or any other major distress a person is experiencing. Well, my mother would have told you everything and more than you’d ever want to know in response to the question, but I think many will respond with "I’m fine."

What do I, the sufferer, want from you then, if "how are you?" doesn’t work? I want your presence, your normalcy. I want your call saying "let’s go to the Dairy Queen" or wherever your favorite place is. A call and invite to dinner, or to a movie (at the theater or your house), a "let’s go for a ride to wherever, let’s go for a walk." Get the picture here? I need to feel normal again. I need to have activity to combat my loneliness. Yet strangely enough, I may do everything to resist the very offer, the thing that will actually comfort me the most.

In my activity with you, at dinner, a movie, or a visit over a cup of coffee, I may let my guard down and tell you how I am really feeling—maybe.

Why am I writing this? Because I got to thinking, one Pajama Sunday when my weekly paint by numbers gals weren’t able to come over, how much I rely on the fun, normal interactions with people, friends. How much my time was "filled" with my partner rather than with others. 

Jack was my social partner, my "go to the movies with" guy, my "talk about the weather" person. That void, that void of human interaction, now needed to be filled from outside these walls. And when I say "walls" I really mean the invisible walls I put up by saying "I’m fine."

We are all different in how we live and heal our grief. I’m just sharing my thoughts today. Giving you something to think about.

Something More about…  "I’m fine" The Universal Response From Grievers

If you or someone you know is grieving, my booklet, My Friend, I Care: The Grief Experience may provide comfort. 

Here’s a recent review: 

"My Friend, I Care", booklet review

I received this booklet shortly after my husband passed away this past October. It was so much "to the point" of what I was experiencing. I have read the little booklet several times and have even offered it to some of my family members and friends. I ordered extra copies to give away when someone is experiencing the death of a oved one. This is a valuable resource!

- Dorothy W. 

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So true, Barbara, so true. My “I’m fine” is “I am ok.” Partly because that is what society expects the answer to be and any real vulnerable answer I don’t think would be received. The other is because of the uniqueness of my life limiting illness I know people won’t understand so I don’t bother sharing. But I think you are right, if you are willing hang out and I can see genuine compassion and wanting to know the real answer I might give a real response. But I hate when people can’t just witness or want to put a bow on it and make it look good. I was listening to a grief podcast today and it talked about being witness as this spiritual thing. This idea that here you are willing to just sit along side my deepest being. Holding my hand in mud and rain. That’s all. It’s hard to find enough people that can.

Thank you for sharing this as always.
BK Books replied:
Hi Novelette, thank you for sharing. Hope you find that someone who can support you. Blessings! Barbara


My wife died 9 months ago after a long decline from MS. Our friends provided support in the first few months but that has trailed off. That’s normal I think. They all have busy lives and families of their own. So I think I need to be more proactive about reaching out and creating opportunities to get together.
BK Books replied:
Mark, you’re so right, by the time we grievers are ready to be more interacting, others have moved on. Blessings to you and thank you for sharing this important point. Barbara


Very good post, Barbara. I love your concrete helping ideas to extend normalcy and let presence open the door to sharing. It is important that friends know: they don’t need to tiptoe! The grieving friend wants their loved one remembered! My husband passed during “high COVID” and that necessitated a difficult void. But I am staying vigilant with my recently widowed peers.
BK Books replied:
Thank you Deborah for your insight. Blessings! Barbara


Beautifully said
Sending a hug
BK Books replied:
Thanks for the hug, Kyle. Blessings! Barbara


I could use this now. My mom just got moved yesterday to hospice and my partner with Alzheimer’s is moving tomorrow near me for long term care so I can care for him. I love your material. I thought I was prepared until they cry in pain.
BK Books replied:
Cami, you might find my book, By Your Side, and the booklet, How Do I Know You, helpful in your caregiving. You are going to have a challenging time ahead. Accept all the offers of help you get. Blessings! Barbara

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