Please Don’t Call Me Brave

Please don’t call me brave.

I appreciate the gesture, I really do. I think you are really kind to observe what I do, and to express admiration.

It’s not false modesty, not bashfulness. There are no blushes.

But being called brave does make me feel uncomfortable, and it isn’t all to do with being in the spotlight.

Saying that someone who is facing any sort of adversity is ‘brave’ is meant kindly, I know. I wonder if the concept of bravery is overused? That’s not to say that people aren’t brave.

What does ‘brave’ actually mean?

I looked up the definition of ‘brave’ – it is ‘to show courage’, or ‘ready to endure or face danger or pain’.

Another word for courage is strength, and I’ll admit I’ve got that in spades. I’ve faced up to things, challenged things, helped change perceptions and actions.

But being ready to endure or face danger or pain seems like the true definition of bravery. Like someone who dashes in to a burning building or plunges in to deep water to save someone. An act of bravery without a thought for their own wellbeing.

My own wellbeing has always been involved throughout this journey. I wanted to come out of the other side, somehow, although I had no idea how the other side might look or necessarily know when I had reached it.

And that is the crux of it.

Danger and pain was thrust upon me. I was not ready to endure or face danger or pain that day when I went to my midwife’s appointment and the world fell from under my feet. Survival was not a conscious decision.

I had to get on with it. I had to be strong. It just had to get on with the situation that was presented to me, in whatever way I could.

Before everything happened, I never would have imagined that I was capable of everything that I have done and achieved in the last two and a half years.

Heartbroken about not having my precious baby boy Hugo in my arms, and anger about the unfairness of the world were motivators. Wanting to keep Hugo’s memory alive through helping others as a means of penance for having ‘failed’ my son.

But are those actions brave? I’m not sure.

Strong, in carrying on when there were times I wanted to give up on everything? Possibly.

Stubborn? Bloody-minded? Tenacious and persistent? Oh most definitely!

No one can know how they will cope when faced with any form of adversity, whether it is an accident, bereavement, serious illness, or anything else.

If you are a parent of a living child, think of all the things you do for them. You just do those things, don’t you?

I do what I do for Hugo, and for me, because I have to.

I am trying to do the best I can with the hand that I have been dealt.

By asking people to not call me brave I am not trying to make people feel bad, or to make people feel like they should remain silent for fear of saying the wrong thing.

If you do call me brave, I won’t get cross, or bite your head off. I know there are far worse things to be called! It is far from an insult. It’s just trying to make you think.

We all have our battles to fight. There is no competition. There are no medals, no podium, no awards in recognition of how we have dealt with stuff life throws at us.

And if you look at it that way, we all are brave in our own way.

You just get on with it, in some way, somehow.

Because you have to.

6 Comments on Please Don’t Call Me Brave

  1. Lara Large
    January 1, 2017 at 2:57 pm (5 years ago)

    I tell people the same thing. I’m not brave. I just keep going. I cope because I have to. But I didn’t choose to lose my boy Zachary. I wasn’t able to carry him any longer because I was seriously ill. He lived 144 days. 144 amazing days. But never made it home. People tell me how brave I am. I’m not.

  2. Pat cann
    September 6, 2016 at 7:51 am (5 years ago)

    You are couragous. As we all are going through pain and sorrow. My son and his girlfriend lost one of twins, and they were incredibly couragous. Far more than I expected them to be. And that courage has turned into drive and positivity to make the most of the situation and to support others in their situation.
    As grandparents we have taken courage from them!

    • Leigh
      September 12, 2016 at 7:59 am (5 years ago)

      I’m sorry to hear about your grandchild. Courage can be a powerful tool for change – thank you for your kind comment xxx

  3. Ana
    September 5, 2016 at 5:57 pm (5 years ago)

    I disliked being called strong when my baby died. I suppose when people say that, they mean that they wouldn’t be so level-headed and wouldn’t show as much spirit in the same situation. But what I kept hearing instead was ‘you’ll get through this’ at a moment where I desperately needed empathy for my pain and fear, and not a promise that, oh, they’re sure I can make it out of this dark pit (bye-bye!). It sounded dismissive of my tragedy, dismissive of my state. And I didn’t have the capacity to see any further than the current moment, to be in anything but the current moment. I do know that the intent was kind. A wish to comfort me, and maybe themselves as well. It is rare to have friends our age who are good at dealing with death.

  4. Kim Carberry
    September 5, 2016 at 2:37 pm (5 years ago)

    I know where you are coming from with this….When my girls both had open heart surgery I was called brave….It didn’t feel/sound right to me. I was doing what needed to be done. I had no choice about their surgery. They either had it or died when they were teenagers. We just got on with it…

    • Leigh
      September 12, 2016 at 7:58 am (5 years ago)

      Exactly, Kim. Thanks for your comment xxx


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