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Being 'strong' in grief

This week (2nd– 8th December) is Grief awareness week and, instead of writing the usual blog on coping with grief I thought I would write about one of the most common things I hear whenever I am talking with someone about grief ‘I need to be strong for x’.


What exactly does strong mean in the context of grief? For many it seems to be that being strong is ‘carrying on’ as they did before, shouldering the emotions with no outward display – as though they are knights dressed in armour fighting off the negative emotions, charging into battle daily and saving those in distress…….because if emotions are felt and shown it somehow prevents them helping/supporting others. Is this strength? Even the language we use around death, loss and grief implies strength, weakness, fighting battles, winning and loosing – does it need to be this way or is there another, more helpful way, to look at, talk about, feel and even deal with grief?



I think it is unhelpful and unhealthy to ‘be strong’ in this way, grief is grief and needs to be felt and let out in whatever way works for you. Feeling sad, angry, frightened, vulnerable, lonely, all of these and more, are common reactions to grief and loss and it is ok, needed even, to feel them and show them. Grief and all that comes with it is hard enough without adding in guilt and self-admonishment for feeling the way you feel. I get it, it is incredibly hard in society to say you are not ok, taboo even, but maybe the more people are open about how they feel, the easier and less taboo it will become. Maybe speaking out about how you feel will help others believe they too can speak out about how they feel and that it is ok to feel that way. Maybe being strong can look like being open and honest about how you feel rather than pushing it all down inside? Maybe strong is allowing those horrible and difficult emotions that are there with grief.


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