If I bring Maggie up in the conversation it's fine, or at least better. If someone else brings it up I quickly tear up and nod a lot. Obviously I appreciate the kindness people show as well as their heartfelt condolences, and I certainly don't want to be the one bringing it up all the time, but it's hard for me.
This is not useful to those who don't want to say or do the "wrong thing" because they are not wrong at all. This is my issue, not that of the kind people around me.
I feel like I am walking through the world with a protective coating. I can reach through it and still keep it around me, but if someone pierces that coating with kindness it falls off completely and everyone knows how vulnerable I am. There's no shame in that. Obviously I'm vulnerable. I know I'm not really fooling anyone. Controlling the conversation or my emotions is not possible; but it's difficult when I lose even the illusion of control.
It happens frequently, but not always and I am more surprised at my reactions than anyone else. I anticipate the issue and the reaction and it almost never goes as I think it will. When I do "lose it" a bit, the reactions of others is interesting. Some push forward either oblivious to my discomfort or sure that I "need" to cry. Generally these are people who are not terribly close to me but feel they know what's best. Again, there is nothing but kindness and good intention but they are just reading the situation wrong or assuming a relationship that is not there.
The other night I attended a graduation party for my niece and one of the family friends said how sorry she was to hear about Maggie. Immediately I stiffened and my eyes welled up. She saw it immediately and said, "and that's all I am going to say about that." I could have kissed her for that. Actually a little later in the evening I broached the subject with her and we had a lovely talk about Maggie that made me feel quite good - but the conversation was initiated by me, and guess I knew I could handle it then.
I doubt this makes much sense to anyone, and it may not have any bearing on the experience of anyone else; but I'm trying to chronicle this process and I can only do that if I'm true to my way, even if it's a bit wacky.
Now excuse me while I reapply my protective coating.
And just because I was humming this as I typed the final sentences, here's Frank Sinatra singing My Way