Here are some thoughts on what to say instead of telling someone to be strong…
“Feel what you need to feel”
“It’s ok to be sad, angry, confused”
“You don’t have to be strong”
“I’m here to hold your hand”
These words allow us to be with the person who’s hurting. They tell them we don’t need them to be anything other than who they are. We don’t need them to feel anything other than what they are feeling.
They are free to be and feel whatever they need to feel. And we are there, holding them and supporting them as they do. Without judgement. But with pure compassion. They are safe. They are held. They are supported.
It was only after 7 losses that I finally realised I didn’t have to hold it together, I didn’t have to be strong. Here’s what happened…
My family came to visit me a few days after I lost Jiya. I don’t remember much from that day other than one moment. A moment that was pivotal for me. A moment that brings me to tears every time I think about it.
My youngest sister said hello and hugged me, like we always do. I think she felt me holding back. And she said something that broke me. Quite literally. I crumbled into her embrace. My heart shattered against hers.
‘You don’t have to be strong’ she said.
All I knew before then was to hold it together – as much for everyone else’s sake as for my own. But those words gave me permission to break. They allowed my body to do what it longed to do. To drop. To fall. To release the weight I was carrying. To allow myself to be caught by someone else.
They told me what I needed to hear. That I didn’t need to be strong for other people. That they were ok being my strength when I had not a single ounce of it left in me.
And most importantly those words told me it was safe to feel what I needed to feel. It was safe to release whatever I needed to release. And in that moment of release, I felt like a weight had lifted, I felt lighter and I felt free to just be.
Who knew the wisest of words that would stay with me would come from the youngest person around me at the time.
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