I know some people want my answer to be "better" because they love me and want me to feel better for me. But I can't help but feel like there is some unspoken social expectation that I ought to be doing better "by now." Whatever "by now" means. I feel like our culture demands that we do our very best to get over hard things as soon as possible, so that they don't have to be referenced in social exchanges. As though if we pretend that hard things don't exist, life will be easier. But that's a lie.
Having a first-hand experience with grief recently has me thinking a lot about our culture. Generally, I love to think about culture and social interactions (hence the oh-so-useful sociology/anthropology B.A.). But this examination has been painful. Some cultures share grief very differently than we do. They mourn together, they mourn loudly. They have physical expressions of grief. They have extended periods of mourning. I'm not saying they have it all right, but I've simply been noting the contrast to our society.
Many of my friends (lots of you, dear readers) have bucked our social norms by giving me permission to take my time, by acknowledging that this wasn't a "typical" miscarriage (I acknowledge that ALL miscarriages are significant losses, it's just that this one was so late), and by being willing to simply BE with me during this emotionally turbulent time and let me know you don't think I'm losing it completely.
But then there are others who think I need to be moving on. And that really hurts. And then there are others who simply haven't acknowledged it whatsoever. And that just confuses me. Do they not care? Or do they think if they acknowledge it, it will somehow remind me of what happened (as if it isn't just below the surface of every thought I have all day long)?
So now when I'm asked, "How are you?" I feel like I'm navigating all the possibilities of what the person wants...do they want the real answer, do they want to hear that I'm "fine," or do they want me to act as though none of this ever happened or as if I don't know that they know what happened. And I have to analyze it in about 2 seconds. And that is making me tired.
I long to answer people's questions with authenticity and grace, and do so in a way that conforms to appropriate social norms. I'm just not sure I've figured out how to do that yet. So the next time you ask me how I am, forgive me if it takes me a few moments to answer.