A Pillar of Strength

I have a friend who has been diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer. She refuses to cry even though she wants to and she refuses to allow herself to get in touch with her emotions. She prefers to use her humor as a defense mechanism it will always pop up when difficult conversations or topics arise. In her defense, she stated the women in her life always told her, “Don’t let anyone see you cry!” and her take was that she always had to demonstrate being a pillar of strength. What exactly does this mean to be a pillar of strength? Men, since they are young, developed the schema that boys don’t cry. As a Latina, I remember hearing my father tell my brothers to “shake it off” and “don’t cry” but the females could cry. As a Latina grief therapist, I have observed the challenge men experience as they struggle with the schema that they must portray to be strong despite if their heart has been broken into a million pieces. My question is, “What truly does it mean to be strong?” Does strength come from allowing yourself to be vulnerable?

Published by Kindred Spirit Latino Center for Grief and Loss

I am a licensed clinical social worker and Texas State Board Approved Clinical Supervisor. I have 14 years of experience working with grief, loss and bereavement as well as providing educational workshops to professionals and the community. Working with survivors of suicide loss, an individual or family may lose support systems once in place. Research shows many survivors of suicide loss often experience social isolation. There is also research showing after 10 days of social isolation, an individual begins to experience symptoms of depression. I am a survivor of suicide loss and my own personal experience has led me to help increase awareness, knowledge and reduce the shame and stigma associated with suicide, mental heatlth and begin conversations in the Latino family unit.

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