It’s the phrase that is written and said over and over in the midst of life’s storms. Someone experiences a loss “stay strong”, someone is having financial hardship “stay strong”, someone caught a cheating spouse “stay strong”. My question is this…..
Why must the person going through something that is absolutely rocking them to their core stay strong? Why can’t we break down? Why is struggling in life so taboo?
Is it because we make others feel uncomfortable when we cry? Is it because they feel like they are giving us support by instructing us to stay strong? Does it let them off the hook for actually putting in time to listen to the grieving person?
What does the stay strong comment even mean?
I have always been a pretty strong willed person. It often got me in trouble when I was young because I had my way of doing things and it usually didn’t mesh with my parents’ ideas. I am fairly matter-of-fact when it comes to life. Though I do struggle with things, in my mind life is what it is. I struggle with having to filter my comments because my black and white world view tends to make me come across as brash or harsh. I am probably considered to be, by some, a strong woman.
My late husband and I talked a lot about what would happen if he didn’t come home. I would make him change the subject because it made me that upset. His take on things was that if something happened to him, that I would be fine because I am a strong woman. And he was right. I am ok.
However, I feel like I was strong because I had no choice. I had to get out of bed. I had to take care of our children. Life was going to move on regardless of whether I wanted it to or not.
I feel, though, that I missed out on some important grieving and healing because I was a strong woman. It was expected. I know that people around me know me as being someone that can handle life. I am very good at putting on a front that everything is ok and that I’m staying strong. But who does that really help? I will tell you who it helps, those that aren’t in your situation. It doesn’t help the hurting person to deal with the situation so they can move on in a healthy manner.
When you get stay strong thrown at you over and over and over, you tend to stuff things down. You almost feel like you are failing if you don’t heal fast enough. If you break down too much for others’ comfort. If you need to talk about something that society says you should be done with.
Stop shoving everyone in a box! Life is hard! Things happen that suck!
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO STAY STRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Seriously……Grieve. Yell. Stomp your feet. Say it’s not fair. Cry in bed all day if you need to.
Get it all out because you need to do what you need to do. It is OKAY for you to not be strong.
For those of you who tell others to stay strong, STOP IT!!!!!!!! You are accomplishing nothing!!!
***PSA— Another thing to NOT say is this, “If you need anything let me know”…..they will NEVER let you know!! They don’t know what they need! (but that is a whole other post).***
Give your sympathies. Give them a hug. Send them a handwritten note. Send them money or buy them necessities. Send an encouraging quote. LISTEN to them. Let them vent/cry/yell/etc WITHOUT analyzing them. Just let them get their emotions out. Help them feel safe. Just BE without expecting anything in return…………….be OKAY with your feelings of being uncomfortable, it’s not about you! Validate THEM and what THEY are feeling.
Eventually, we get through life struggles and move on to sunnier days. Eventually, we heal. We never forget, but we can, and will, move on. We will be able to look back and say “I made it, I can’t believe how strong I was”, but in the moment, strong is just another burden to carry.
Tell them you are sorry. Tell them you are praying for them. Be available to them. Anticipate a need and fulfill it.
Do not tell them to stay strong, that just makes them feel bad for feeling weak!
There will be a time in all of our lives where we will need to be weak, you will want the same given back to you. That is why we do life together. That is why we have friends and family, to help us through the weak times so that we DON’T have to be strong!
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Shared with “A Wise Woman Builds Her Home”