When Lane died I often got asked the question "how are you doing?" Not "how are you?" but "how are you doing?" To me, "how are you doing?" was inquiring about my mental state whereas "how are you? would be referring to my health and well being.
When you first lose your husband your mental state is definitely compromised. Most of us have see sawed from sad to unstable and back again. I think this state of mind lasts a minimum of a year. During this time period you really can't tell people how you feel. It would only frighten them and push some away.
So my usual reply was "I'm hanging in there" or "I'm doing the best I can." Friends and family were willing and able to accept these answers. It made them feel better even if I didn't.
As time progressed and I progressed I would answer "how are you doing?" with one word replies such as "better" or "fine." People would smile and think I felt a lot better than I did but that was okay with me.
Now that Lane has been gone for 5 years I rarely get asked "how are you doing?" The assumption is I have adjusted to my new life and moved on. Of course that is not 100% accurate. I have gotten used to life as it is now and I don't know if I ever will be able to completely move on.
So "how am I doing?" I'm okay. Let's leave it at that.
How are you doing?