“You’re so strong.”
“I don’t think I could do what you are doing. You’re incredible.”
“You’re so smart, resilient and capable. You’re going to be fine.”
Does it ever drive you a little crazy when people say these kind of things to you?
I definitely understand the good intentions behind these kind of comments that people say to us when we’ve lost our baby, but there’s something about these statements that never really landed right for me. And I know I’m not alone in this feeling…this feeling of annoyance or discomfort that’s almost hard to put your finger on when some well-intended person tells us how well we are doing or how incredibly strong we are. Many of the women I support have told me how they have felt frustrated and confused by these seemingly supportive words of comfort.
And then I had a realization that made it all make a bit more sense. I was driving in my car and I just happened to to catch a piece of a woman being interviewed. She was explaining her definition of a “strong woman.”
“A Strong Woman is someone who is undaunted, unflinching and fearless when confronted with challenge or hard times,” she told the radio host.
I surge of horror and anger went through me. This is it! This is the problem right here. I was taken aback by the full realization of how brutally misguided this concept of strength really is- and how incredibly dominant this belief is in our culture.
Strength = not impacted. Invincible. Unshaken.
This is such a myth!, I wanted to shout out to her. Stop spreading these lies! It’s not true. It’s just a bunch of bumper sticker rhetoric we’ve been sold.
And it serves no one.
As a psychotherapist, I have witnessed the distinct difference between posturing and true strength.
“I’m fine. No, I don’t need anything. I’m fine. Really. I’ve got this.”
This is the mask we wear when we are in fact most terrified.
As in- Not only am I going through the most Earth Shattering, disorienting and excruciatingly painful experience of my life, but I am terrified that I will judged, shamed, and criticized if I reveal to you that I am actually impacted in any way.
As if it could be possible somehow not be deeply and profoundly impacted by the loss of your child? As this this goal was even desirable?
Consequently, If I accept help, take time off, slow down, or let someone else carry the weight for a while, I am basically declaring to the world- “I am failing!”
The myths & fables that we have been told about Courage and Strength in our culture have pushed us towards seeing Stoicism & Impermeabability as the end goal. “Being strong” then becomes simply a way of hiding from this world.
It’s a mask.
The truth is, Grief is simply bigger and meaner than we are. And it’s terrifying. It knocks us out and knocks us down. It changes everything and turns our world inside out and upside down.
So what if we stopped the automatic conditioned response of saying that we are “fine” or “doing okay” when it isn’t even a realistic goal to be “fine” when our worlds have just exploded. When we are devastated, broken, afraid and lost- because we have just lost our baby. We have just lost everything.
What would a purer definition of “strong” mean for you?
How would this change how you carried your pain & your lost little one with you?
To me, “being strong” after the devastating loss of my baby means being willing to tend to the pain; being open to sitting amongst the brokenness and devastation without rushing to try to tidy things up or simply distracting yourself from the inevitable mess around you;
Moving towards, instead of away from, what hurts most.
In this video here, I am guiding you through a way to do this differently and busting through all the myths that will try to get in your way.
I hope you find some support & comfort here today.
And if you found this helpful, then please share it and join me in breaking the silence & isolation surrounding life after baby loss.
Lots of Love,