I’ve heard this phrase so many times since I lost my Dad. To be honest I’ve begun to hate it, I sometimes think it’s the worst thing to say but then sometimes I need to hear it.

It frustrates me when it’s been said by someone who I rarely see or doesn’t know me that well. I think mainly because they’re saying it because they don’t know what else to say, which I can understand and probably should be more sensitive to but let’s face it, I’m going through one of the most challenging experiences of my life and being sensitive to others isn’t as easy as it usually is. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always reacted the same, smiling and thanking them, but internally it’s annoyed me. They don’t see me or my family everyday, they’ve not been witness to our toughest moments, they’re not aware of the tears shed, grumpy moments, angry times, frustration and wallowing we’ve had. They don’t actually have any clue what we’re feeling or have been going through and in fact don’t know how we’re doing at all.

It’s all happened behind closed doors, we’ve kept it among those we’re closest to.  We’ve only let our nearest and dearest see the raw, hard breakdowns of difficult emotions. My teacher face (or game face as many like to call it) usually gets plastered on before I leave the house and as much as possible stays fixed until I get home again.

So how can people say,”you’re doing really well” is it because I’ve been managing to get up, get dressed, eat, drink, sleep (well for a couple hours a night) go to work everyday and do usual things with my game face on? Is it because I’m letting some of the emotions out to only certain people and then dusting myself off and carrying on? Or is it because really they don’t have a clue and feel the need to say something positive and reassuring?

I have a colleague at work who tells me how strong and well I’m doing regularly, I find this person very supportive and find comfort when she tells me in a sincere, caring and slightly admirable way that she thinks I’m doing really well. She’s actually my line manager and has been very sensitive and caring about the situation. There’s something very calming and soothing when she tells me I’m doing well, I think because she’s allowed me to share the tough moments with her, lending a friendly ear whilst also reassuring me that this is going to take time. This lady keeps reminding me that at times I’ll have to ask for help or need extra support and that it’s ok to drop the game face and say, “I need help” in fact it’s probably better to than to try juggle and carry on until it’s unmanageable. I think as a result of this kind of support, I have been able to “do really well” because I’ve almost been given permission to not “do really well” I’ve actually been able to hold things together and carry on.

That sums it up, you’re doing really well when you admit that you might not always be doing really well.  When you have moments when you crumble and turn to those you need and say, ‘today’s hard’ or that you help. It’s sometimes admitting that you’re not doing really well, that helps you learn to cope.

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