How Is She Doing?

PathWords used to describe grieving people often measure them in terms of how well they are doing rather than how they are feeling. “How is our mutual friend doing after the death of her mother?” “She is doing really well. She is back to work and looks really good.” Or, “She is a mess. Really not doing well at all. She is having a hard time getting through the day.”

Could “doing really well” mean she is presenting well so others will not worry about her? Could “really not doing well” mean she is expressing the appropriate feelings for this profound loss?

Perhaps how we speak of those who grieve could describe our understanding of how their feeling and functioning are related. “She is struggling to get her work done, but that is certainly understandable given how much she loved her mom and how sad she is.”

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Dr. Patrick O’Malley is a psychotherapist in Fort Worth, Texas, specializing in grief counseling. For 35 years, he has counseled individuals, couples and families in his private practice. Dr. O'Malley has recently published a book, "Getting Grief Right" about grief recovery.

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