What Does it Mean to be "Strong"

Ever since my beautiful daughter Scarlett died I have had many people tell me how strong I am. Even when I felt that I was at my lowest, there was that kind person whispering to me that I was strong. I didn’t believe that I was strong, in fact I had never felt more weak and powerless in my life. The life that I had worked so hard for and loved so much had been shattered. This sounds a bit dramatic but I didn’t even know who I was anymore, let alone how to my life back together.

In the early days right after Scarlett passed away, all I knew was that I had to keep living, I had a large group of wonderful people praying, loving and supporting us, and I had my husband to help hold me as I held him because we both were and are irrevocably broken. This didn’t feel like strength to me, this felt like I was barely holding on to what was left of my life. I couldn’t even do basic things for myself, like cook or clean. To be completely honest even after 9 months of her being gone there are some days where I still cannot cook or clean. I still just sit in my living room and think what did I do before Scarlett, what did I do with my time? I feel lost in my own house sometimes, just wandering from room to room unable to stay for long and complete a task. I feel like a ghost of my former self.

As the months moved on from January, I could laugh and smile and some days were better than others but I didn’t feel whole. I didn’t feel strong. I felt like I was being held up by a very delicate string and at any moment it could break and I could be right back where I started from. Sometimes it did break and those were hard days that took me by complete surprise. Which is normal for grief, this journey is not linear, it zigs and zags and loops back to the beginning and we just have to be there for the ride. However that is a hard thing to accept and at 4,5,6 months after I was often mad at myself for not being further along.  Why am I still crying every night? Why do I completely break down whenever I go to tell our story? Why am I so weak?

All along I am being told I am strong when I feel like the weakest version of myself. I didn’t get it. I continued enduring, and going to therapy, and going to my grief group, and reading grief books and somewhere along the way I learned what strength was. I learned that you can be strong in different, non-conventional ways. Being strong in the face of grief for me was allowing myself to actually grieve. Being strong for me was sharing my grief with you all and allowing you to see me without my mask on, allowing you to see my tired and broken soul. When I looked my grief in the face and decided to walk with it instead of run from it that was being strong. Continuing to live after Scarlett had died was being strong.

So thank you to all of the people who could see my strength before I could. Thank you for reminding me what true strength looks like. It’s been 9 months since Scarlett passed away but it often feels like it was just yesterday, this grief will last my entire life and I will continue to be authentic with it. These next few months are going to bring back crashing waves of grief, with the holidays and January right around the corner. There is not one second that I don’t think about Scarlett. There is not one moment that my arms don’t yearn to hold her again. Thank you for your continued support my loves. It helps my head to stay above the crashing waves. It helps me to stay strong while surrendering to my grief.