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"You're so strong!"

This is one of my favourite clichés.

It's not really an achievement to be strong when there is no option not to. Being strong is not our choice, it's a must. Being able to fall apart is a luxury that most widows or widowers don't have. I, for one, keep saying for the past four and a half years that I am due a nervous breakdown. I deserve it. I just simply don't have the time for it. Maybe when Little Miss moves out for college in about 15 years.

Jokes aside, this comment is not really helpful. I mean sure, congratulations, you observed that they are strong (or at least they didn't break - yet).

What's next? - Usually nothing.

We get the praise, the compliment, and that's all in most cases. We're grateful for the admiration, but frankly, we would be more grateful if we had more people around us with whom we don't have to be strong. Who would listen and be there for us in our weak moments (without judgement). Being so [effin] strong all the time is exhausting. Widows need an outlet to their feelings and insecurities, too, otherwise they will just break, or worse, become a tired, bitter and sour version of ourselves. I'm saying that the latter is worse because while one can stand up after a breakdown, negative personality changes are much harder to reverse.

Being strong and keep going, fighting through bureaucracy and silent (or showed) judgment is not a walk in the park. Unless that park is in the middle of a medieval battlefield.

To start, right after their loss, they have to deal with:

  • The bureaucracy (will, probates, solicitors, inquest, government officials just to name a few)

  • The family (not everyone is lucky to have supportive families / in-laws)

  • The kids (nothing worse than seeing them suffer, or trying to explain to a toddler where their mum or dad went)

  • People (not everyone is genuine, there are the nosy or opportunistic ones)

And I don't even mention the funeral because that's a whole other story... All when they barely can accept that this is happening, expecting their spouse to walk through the door at any minute. When the pain cripples them inside. They deal with it, they are strong. Are they really?

In fairness, it is an achievement. But when all they hear is how strong they are, soon enough it will be expected of them to be. Because if they are strong, then the rest of the world doesn't need to get involved in something as uncomfortable as grief.

To learn more about the nosy, inappropriate and straight stupid, I mean ignorant comments, check out my book on the below link:


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