I have been thinking a lot about how we view bravery, how often the word is used and how sometimes it can be detrimental rather than encouraging. How people mean to encourage yet in truth can do the opposite.
I can only write from experience but there are times in my life when I have felt the complete opposite to brave yet have found myself surrounded by people telling me I am.
When Livvy’s was diagnoses and I found myself facing life with a child with a complex disability so many said, “you are so brave” “ I don’t know how you cope” all statements were being said to encourage and celebrate me. Yet I was far from brave, I so wanted to run out of my life, to pick up Livvy and live in a world where disability could not enter. A world where Rett Syndrome was banished. I wasn’t brave, I was surviving the only way I knew how, encouraged by the bravery of my beautiful girl.
“I don’t know how you have gone on” this was a statement that haunted me when Livvy died. I was caught in a whirlwind of emotions. It felt like a two pronged comment, my mind actually spiralled for such a long time due to this statement. I mean how have I gone on? Do I not love my daughter enough that I haven’t just given up on life without her, what kind of mother am I? Did I fail her by not giving up?
Nearly ten years on and I still have no answer on to the question “how I have gone on?” Seriously it has been through God’s grace and the love I have for her sisters and also the innate knowledge that she expected nothing less of me but to live this life fully and that she would certainly kick my butt if I didn’t. I was not brave, I was surviving.
I still wish people would think before admiring another’s bravery because those words offered in love often becomes a noose around someone’s neck, pulling tighter holding those who so need to admit to being scared, to being vulnerable no safe place to unload.
Instead please, ask them how they are doing?
Tell them its ok to be afraid?
Tell them them they are doing well but don’t ask them how they have got through it, because truly if you are waiting for me to get through my grief for Olivia you may be waiting a long time.
Be a safe place for people to unload, cast no judgement about where they are at. Just listen, really listen and if you cannot find the words to support just hug them tight. I know there is no answers to the pain, no reason’s to the why but sometimes its just nice to be held. It’s not ok and it may never will be, but I am not alone. That means more than words.