July 15, 2010

Be Strong....

How many times do people tell grieving people to ‘be strong’? And why is one supposed to ‘be strong’? Are we supposed to stop the feelings? Is it inappropriate or unhealthy to show our emotion when something happens that will forever change our world? I think not. Perhaps, the truth is that the one saying to another to ‘be strong’ is unsure of exactly what to say but they want to say something. Or maybe that person saying ‘be strong’ cannot, themselves, handle the sadness and their hope is that the one expressing sorrow will stop so they don’t have to face their own. Finally, maybe the one saying ‘be strong’ has been told the same phrase and they just say it thinking it is the right thing to say.

Each person has their own process. If I learned nothing else throughout the two years my mother had cancer I have learned that profoundly.

Because I had been so offended at a time when grieving and felt I was “falling apart” then being met with what I can only assume were meant as words of encouragement from a friend, “Be strong”….I looked up the dictionary definition of the word. After finding many descriptions of physical strength, I found one related to emotion on dictionary.com: “…of great force, effectiveness, potency, or cogency; compelling….”

Alas, I have found it. Evidence, perhaps, a definition that clarifies the stirring in my mind and the sadness in my heart when I hear someone tell another to be strong or keep their chin up when their heart is breaking. The strongest thing I imagine a person to do when hurting is to feel….whenever they feel it and however they feel it….that is what being strong is, in my humble opinion.

I encourage others, and in turn encourage myself, to “be strong” by moving through and experiencing each emotion – whatever those emotions are. Go through the process. Do not avoid it by looking "strong" for others.

Be strong….

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