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How Are You Doing?


When you experience the loss of a loved one, the question you get asked the most is, "How are you doing?" This is a reasonable question, an honest inquiry from those who care about you, an expression of love ... and a hard one to answer.

These were my thoughts about two months after our daughter Alex died ...

Life after significant loss. Death of an adult child. Suicide. There's no neat little box this fits in. It's weird. Odd. Disjointed. Grief isn't linear. There's no direct path through it. No playbook to follow. Normalcy returns in pieces and chunks. Joy. Laughter. Friends. Family. Back to work. Living life. Laundry. Cleaning. Grocery shopping. Day-to-day life things that must be done. Things I enjoy. Things I don't. Just like always. Energy returning ... more or less.

We keep living. We remember her. We mention her in conversation like any parent would talk about their child. Funny things from her childhood. Sweet things. She's part of us. Our history. Our family. The mention of her comes easily, naturally. Often it feels like she's at work or away on a trip and will be walking through the door at any minute. And yet she's gone. No more time together. No more memories to share or create.

Tears come at odd times. My heart squeezes. James, Olivia, and I talk openly. We draw close. We cry. We laugh. We soak up the wonderfulness of this funny, adorable grandboy of ours. We are grateful for the care we've received. The kindness. The prayers. From so many.

Assurance of a solid foundation of faith anchored in Jesus. We are sound and we are safe because of Him. Not tossed about. Not fretting. Not wrestling with God. This was not God's will or His plan for our girl. Depression and a brain chemistry issue stole our daughter. But she's not lost. And the enemy did not get the victory. She's healed and whole and happy. We will see her again.

So many things seem inconsequential now. Foolish arguments best ignored. Minor things that people let get under their skin and vent on social media. Strife among believers. Let it go. It truly doesn't matter. Be kind to one another. Extend mercy. Believe the best. Find common ground.

My heart is still quite raw in spots. It's hard to hear others tell me about their loss. Their grief is not my grief. I want to be empathetic. I do care. And yet I bristle inside sometimes when someone tries to empathize with my grief by putting it through the filter of their own pain. I'm learning greater patience. More grace for others. More gentleness and grace for myself. One day at a time. Sometimes one hour at a time. It's all so jumbled and random.

I'm still me. I'm still joyful. I still have meaningful work to do. A family to love. Life to live. But she's not here. And that's so wrong. It wasn't her time. The beautiful daughter I gave birth to almost 24 years ago. My husband's baby girl and buddy. The quiet introvert in our gregarious family. Olivia's sister and closest friend. Hartford's auntie. Granddaughter, sister-in-law, cousin, niece, friend, coworker. She was loved. And she brightened so many lives. She's worth remembering even when it hurts. Her life was so much more than how it ended.

These are the things that tumble through my brain when someone asks, "How are you doing?"

The short answer is that I'm okay. I miss her. It's horrible and it hurts. But I am okay. I'm safe in the palm of God's hand, tucked safely under His wing. And so is our girl.

Alexandra Manos - Our beautiful daughter. October 5, 1993 - June 29, 2017



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