Grief Makes You a Liar and I've been lying to everyone in my life


I’ve been lying a lot lately. I lie to everyone. My family. My friends. Co-Workers. Acquaintances. Loved ones and strangers alike. I tell lies all day long. Some are just little white lies. Some are just lies by omission. Others are outright whoppers. I’m getting really good at it.

The most common lie is in response to the question, “How are you?” I say, “Fine,” and “Good,” and nothing could be farther from the truth. I lie like a cheap rug.

When I was little my mother told me if you told a lie your tongue would start to turn black and the more you lied the blacker it would get. Eventually, it would get so black it would fall out. My tongue should have fallen out months ago. I’ve been lying to my mom a lot. To avoid lying to her I don’t call her anymore.

Grief makes you a liar.

You, see grief makes you a liar. This is especially true when you are a mother whose child has died. It doesn’t make a difference if your child is still a child or no longer “little.” It’s just as devastating when your child is a man. Moms are not meant to outlive their sons (or daughters.) At first you lie, simply because you don’t know what else to do and because the shock and the grief are just too big. In the first days, and even weeks after such a huge and profound loss, there are lots and lots of people around. All of them trying to help you. Often there are just too many people around. They all want an answer to the same question: What do you need? “Nothing,” you lie.

Nothing is word, I use a lot. A LOT. I’ll be having a “Son day” and Husband will say, “Is something wrong, sweetie?” Nothing. I’m fine, honey. Sometimes Daughter will catch the sadness in my eyes. “What’s wrong, Mom?” I smile at her, “Nothing. I’m fine.”

Hey! Where did everybody go?

After a while, it starts to feel like the whole world has moved on, and you? You are just stuck on that day – that very hour. Monday, 7 a.m. June 6, 2011. That’s when the coroner and the policeman came to my house to tell me my life, as I knew it, was over. Some people avoid you because they don’t know what to say or how to act around you. Some people avoid bringing up your son’s name. Some people change the subject when you mention him. Eventually, you don’t mention him as often either. Sometimes it’s easier to just not talk about it. Sometimes all you want to do it talk about it, but you don’t which is like lying to yourself.

Grief makes your world, and you smaller.

I found that not only does grief make you a liar, but it also makes your world, and you smaller. I don’t go places where I might run into someone who doesn’t know yet. I once told the biggest lie of all. I ran into an acquaintance, someone who was also acquainted with Son. They asked, “Oh, how is Son doing?” I literally said, “He’s good.” I avoid large gatherings. I won’t watch his favorite TV shows. I have a hard time going grocery shopping. I talk to his friends, and I am jealous of their mothers. And when my friends who have sons in the military post excited news on Facebook, “My son is coming home.” I delete it. I feel small, ugly, and petty and mean because I am jealous. They still have their sons. When other mother’s complain and rant about their sons forgetting their birthday, or denting the car or getting a “D” in algebra, I want to shout at them. I want to tell them, “Stop it! Don’t be mad at him! Be thankful you have a son who forgot your birthday, dented your car and got a ‘D’ in algebra. Trust me, there are far worse things that can happen.” But I don’t. I just let it go.

The truth is . . .

How am I? Well, I’m a mess. I cry every day. Sometimes several times a day. I miss Son so much it tears at me. It cripples me. It makes it hard to get out bed. It makes it hard to laugh with friends, but I do. It makes it hard to smile, but I try.

How do I feel? I feel tired. I feel alone, although I know I am not. I feel hollow. I feel sad. I feel angry. I feel jealous. I feel loved. I feel unloved. I feel numb. I ache all over. My heart is broken. I feel like I can not go on; I know that I must.

What do I need? I need a cup of coffee. I need good long talk with Son. I need a hug. I need a nap. I need a new drug. I need you to remember him. I need to talk about him. I need to know you loved him too. I need to know you miss him. I need you to not say you know how I feel, because you don’t. I need you to respect me, to respect him and not ask, “How did he die?” I need to go to the movies. I need a good stiff drink. I need a cup of tea. I need a long hot bath. I need you to realize I am forever changed. I need you to know that this won’t get better. I need you to know that it doesn’t hurt less overtime, so stop saying that it does. I need another box of tissues.

Don’t ask a grieving mother how she is, or what she needs. Don’t make her have to lie anymore. Just tell her you’ll be there for her, and let her know you can handle the truth.

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Comments 21 comments

DIYweddingplanner profile image

DIYweddingplanner 5 years ago from South Carolina, USA

Tess, if you ever need to talk, you know I'll be there.

courtney 5 years ago

Wow. That was awesomely honest. I cannot fathom what you are going to go through for the rest of your life. I admire you greatly for just being plain honest and saying exactly what people that don't understand really need to know.

Laurie Wathen 5 years ago

Keep talking about Son! I do. It helps more than anything.

jennjenn519 profile image

jennjenn519 5 years ago from Cocoa, Fl

Thank you for sharing with us and for giving me even more inspiration to value each and every day with my children.

Tess45 profile image

Tess45 5 years ago from South Carolina Author

Thank you Jennjenn. We go through life thinking our children will always be in our lives. We plan and make arrangements in case something happens to us; and then the unthinkable happens and we are set adrift. I am so glad the last thing I said was , I love you. You never know when the last thing you say will literally be the last thing you ever say.

Brenda lee 5 years ago

Wow this is bang on with what I am going through and have gone through. I miss my son so much. Thankyou for this and I will share.

Pamela 5 years ago

First of all want to say I'm sorry for your loss. Definitely can say I feel this way and most likely will continue to for the rest of my life. I lost my baby at 39weeks3days his due date was 12/25/11. He was 6lbs2oz and 19in. One of the worst moments of my life was when the ultrasound revealed no heartbeat. Another of my worst moments was the day he was buried (cremation underground vault). He was so beautiful and precious and I'll never get to be the mom to him that I wanted to be. I'll never get to experience him. I should be holding him in my arms but instead I have some pictures from the hospital (Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep) and an urn filled with his ashes. Not a day goes by that I wish my baby was here. But if anyone asks, I'll say, "I'm fine."

Gayle 5 years ago

How did you get my journal? So true...

Tess45 profile image

Tess45 5 years ago from South Carolina Author

Brenda, Pamela, and Gayle...Just like mother's love is universal, I think so is a mother's grief. What we feel is perfectly normal and we need to allow ourselves to feel this way. We are not alone; although sometimes I wish I was because it gives me no comfort knowing you hurt like I do. But maybe knowing that I understand, that I am there too, helps you...and that helps me.

Karanda profile image

Karanda 4 years ago from Australia

Oh, wow, I can't believe what I have just read. It is as if you took my thoughts and spread them across the screen so I can face them instead of 'lying to myself' that I'm okay. And, no, it doesn't get easier with time but I guess we learn to live with our grief in a way that provides some comfort. Your honesty is refreshing and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your grief.

Tess45 profile image

Tess45 4 years ago from South Carolina Author

You are welcome Karanda. I am truly sorry that you both share and relate to my pain. I am comforted that what I wrote has helped you.

dutchessabroad profile image

dutchessabroad 4 years ago

{{{Tess}}} a hug, there you go. Yes, grief makes us liars, and if we don't want to lie we're in danger of becoming isolated. June 6, 2011, such a short time ago, your wound still raw, while others have grown wary. You describe it well.

No person is ever forgotten if we mention our loved ones name. Each time someone takes the effort to say our baby daughter's name I'm surprised they remember. These days it's only her godmother. A few years after my book came out, some would write her name in capitals because I insisted ARIANE EIRA was big, and I would remind people by shouting on the page she was huge for us, even though she was "only" a baby.

Mama Tess, You miss your Son with a capital S, that's clear.

Do you want to share his name, or is that too painful, too intimate? I would understand that too. And calling him Son, also states you are mother of a son, no matter what. I'm sorry for your loss, and thankful for your writing, and sharing.

Tess45 profile image

Tess45 4 years ago from South Carolina Author

Thank you Duthcesabrod. I Use Son and Daughter to refer to my children when I write about them to protect their privacy. I feel even the dead deserve their privacy. I also refer to my husband as DH for Dear Husband.

dutchessabroad profile image

dutchessabroad 4 years ago

Tess, I appreciate that. Thinking of you, and your Son, thanks to your writing, a memorial of sorts.

Felecia Wong profile image

Felecia Wong 2 years ago from USA

Thank you for being honest. Yes, I agree with you. Grief has made me a liar. I answered fine and nothing a lot of times. My husband passed away in June of 2011 a few days away after your son passed away. I was broken into pieces, my children were broken into pieces, even to this day there are days when we were just to broken to go on. I also saw my mother in law broken and has been living in this pain that no mother can bear. My husband was her first son, the closest one to her, the one who always defended her. I just stumbled upon your writing as I was searching for grief here in hubpages. You are never alone.

Tess45 profile image

Tess45 2 years ago from South Carolina Author

My heart goes out to you, your children and mother. I can empathize and sympathize with you. It must be incredibly difficult to cope with the loss of your spouse, the person you shared everything with. Thank you for reading and your kind comment.

mikeswan profile image

mikeswan 2 years ago from Rochester

Well First of all i want to say that it seems after reading the whole context that Honesty at its best. Sorry for the losses which you had. We should always be maintain a steadiness as far as we can take it because its the criteria of judging people, that how they could change for every other instances.

Jean Bakula profile image

Jean Bakula 2 years ago from New Jersey

I don't know what to say, but I am crying as I read this. I know of two Moms who outlived their children. One was my best friend, we were like sisters, and I still feel like I need to keep checking on her Mom. Sheryl died of cervical cancer. The other friend's child was murdered. She was a Jehovah's Witness, and her family was good enough to take in a homeless boy, who they loved like a son. He got jealous when her real younger son got a girlfriend, and killed him. He never even expressed remorse. Like you, she wanted to talk about her son, on the holidays, or any day, and even her husband didn't. We don't want to forget the ones we love. Even if they die, they still lived and loved and made us smile.

I talk to my husband, and believe he can hear me. But I understand that feeling of lying. Just because I take a shower and maybe put on some makeup and go out, doesn't mean I feel "fine" or "good." Maybe I feel a little less awful. That's as good as it gets. After a relationship of 39 years, it's been 8 months, and people are asking me if I want to date yet. What idiots. I guess they don't mean it. Many of them are in their 60's and have both parents living, and never lost a loved one to death. It's our culture, we ignore death, and don't celebrate the person's life. Take about your loved ones all you want. I am at the point if anyone calls me to ask me to go out to lunch, I'm going to say no. Eating lunch isn't making me any happier.

Tess45 profile image

Tess45 2 years ago from South Carolina Author

I'm so sorry for your loss. I can't even imagine how hard it is to lose your best friend, other half,the person you shared everything with. How insensitive that they ask if you are ready to date. Maybe they just don't want you to be lonely, but you can't replace a person like a broken toaster and just go get a new one.

Jean Bakula profile image

Jean Bakula 2 years ago from New Jersey

That's true. I don't think they understand what they say is hurtful. I guess you have to live it to understand? But I would think people would have more sense.

Tess45 profile image

Tess45 2 years ago from South Carolina Author

People have said some real bonehead things to me. I believe they thought it was helpful. It was the opposite.

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