These words may seem innocent and may just roll off the tongue when you see someone break down and cry.
But in my view these words sting and feel cruel to someone who’s lost their baby…or anyone who’s struggling for that matter.
Telling someone to be strong, not to cry or not to be angry is telling them that they aren’t allowed to feel what they’re feeling and that their emotions aren’t welcome. It can force them to bury these very real, very valid emotions. But there is no release, no healing, no peace from doing so.
I remember being told to “be strong for Jiya”. “Jiya wouldn’t want to see her mummy crying”. Adding in Jiya’s name to these phrases felt doubly cruel. The first time I heard these words with my baby’s name associated to them, I felt overcome with guilt, confusion and utter loss at what I should do. Was my crying causing Jiya pain? My heart broke at the thought.
I now realise it had nothing to do with me and nothing to do with Jiya. It was the other person not knowing how to deal with my tears. They didn’t know how to comfort someone who was in pain. And the easiest thing for them to do was make it stop by telling me to ‘be strong’ and ‘don’t cry’.
So please don’t say these words to anyone who is hurting and just needs to cry – it doesn’t serve them in any way and just forces their pain underground...
Coming up next – what you might want to say instead…