I don’t interact much with anyone lately. When I do, there are some tentative “How are you doing . . . ?” moments, some of which seem to be genuine inquiries about my well-being. Others come off feeling like cursory, obligatory, awkward attempts to acknowledge – without actually bringing up – the fact that my baby died.

I never know how to answer. How am I doing? Am I dealing well with my grief? Have I completely fallen apart? I’m not even sure how I feel at any given moment. It’s become difficult to write because I have no words for this. And I can’t find the right word to describe my emotions. Sad isn’t painful enough. Grieving doesn’t include all the times I feel mostly normal. Lousy is too casual. Despondent ignores the sharp moments of pain and anxiety. The closest I can come is to say I feel bereaved.

I don’t consciously think about Christian’s death often; it lurks in my mind, much as I have a paper due next week and I haven’t even chosen a topic or I need to pay the gas bill soon might. It feels like I need to somehow “deal with” his death, though what that entails I have no idea. Some poor logic makes me believe that if I were able to “deal with it,” I could wrap the whole experience up in a nice little mental compartment and not be affected by it anymore. How preposterous! I firmly believe that even though I’ll gradually feel differently than I do now, losing Christian will always affect me. For now, I’m trying to accept that I feel, as a person, dulled and muted. As if I can’t be happy in the way I was before Christian died.

So I read, and paint, and sleep, and occasionally do useful things like go grocery shopping or make the bed. I let life happen with minimal involvement on my part. When an image of that day in the hospital flashes into my mind, I feel a clutch of fear – fear of how painful it is to really feel the loss of my child. It’s so hard to allow myself to hurt like that. Instead, I force myself to make do with feeling sad, grieving, lousy, despondent. And I hope when someone asks how I’m doing, eventually I can say I feel better. Bereaved – but better.