Strength is often a fleeting thing. It comes and goes, sometimes leaving us when we need it most. When tragedy or heartbreak strikes, we need those we love to hold us up, come together, and offer words of encouragement.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Alternatives to Saying ‘Stay Strong’ After a Death
- What to Say Instead of ‘Stay Strong’ After an Injury, Surgery, or Diagnosis
- Better Ways to Say ‘Stay Strong’ After a Heartbreak
In these situations, a lot of people are quick to offer thoughts and prayers or a simple ‘stay strong.’ While these sentiments are meaningful, it’s important to recognize the power of words. By choosing the “right” words in a time of crisis, we show that we understand and that we’re also willing to help. This goes beyond simply “staying strong.”
Because finding the right words is never easy, we created a list of 18+ ways to say ‘stay strong’ other than this phrase. There’s a phrase to fit any situation, so never find yourself stumbling over your words.
Alternatives to Saying ‘Stay Strong’ After a Death
There are a lot of things not to say to someone experiencing a loss, like that their loved one is In a better place.
Similarly, saying ‘stay strong’ comes off the wrong way in these situations. This is when you need to show support, empathy, and kindness. Strength comes later. Instead, try these alternatives.
1. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m here for you.
Saying “I’m sorry for your loss” on its own doesn’t offer much substance. What exactly are you sorry for? However, when paired with a reminder that you’re always there for them, this transforms into a kind sentiment.
2. I can’t imagine how you feel right now.
A lot of people make the mistake of assuming they understand exactly how someone feels after a loss. In reality, everyone processes grief differently. There’s no one-size-fits-all, so let them know that their feelings are valid.
3. This is a hard time. Do you need anything from me?
Sometimes it’s easier to grieve if we come together. Back up your kind words with real action. What can you do for the bereaved to make this time a little bit easier? Even if it’s small, it makes a big difference.
4. It’s okay to take your time. Let me know if you ever need to talk.
Again, this is a time for validating feelings. When you simply say “stay strong,” it’s implied that they’re not allowed to grieve. Instead, give them space to process their feelings on their own terms.
5. I know how much you loved them.
Support their feelings by recognizing that their love for them won’t go away. This is the best way to offer condolences. You can’t possibly understand how they feel, but you can understand their relationship with the deceased and what this means to them.
6. I wish I had the right words. All I can say is that I’m here for you.
Finally, it’s perfectly acceptable not to have the “right” words. Death is difficult, no matter your relationship with the deceased. Admitting you don’t know what to say and offering support is always better than giving an empty sentiment.
Post-loss tip: If you are the executor for a deceased loved one, the emotional and technical aspects of handling their unfinished business can be overwhelming without a way to organize your process. We have a post-loss checklist that will help you ensure that your loved one's family, estate, and other affairs are taken care of.
What to Say Instead of ‘Stay Strong’ After an Injury, Surgery, or Diagnosis
Just as it’s difficult to know what to say when someone dies, knowing what to say when someone’s sick is also a challenge. This feels like uncharted territory, especially if you’ve never experienced anything like this yourself. Use these phrases below to stay respectful and supportive.
7. Your strength is inspiring.
For those that meet their injury or diagnosis with grace and positivity, let them know that you admire this strength. To face life’s challenges without falling into a negative spiral is something to be proud of. Let them know this is a source of strength for you as well.
8. This doesn’t define you.
A lot of people mistakenly believe that their injury, surgery, or diagnosis defines them. In reality, they’re so much more than that. Remind them of all the ways you love them with this phrase.
9. I’d love to visit. When are you free?
Unfortunately, a lot of friends and family distance themselves from the ill or injured after something like this. Be a beacon of light by showing up in the ways that count. Words are great, but actions are louder.
10. This stinks, but I’ll be here the entire time.
It’s okay to acknowledge how much this stinks. A bit of humor goes a long way towards relieving the tension. However, always follow it up by letting them know you’ll stand by them during this difficult time.
11. If anyone can overcome this, it’s you.
Remind them of their strength and perseverance. This is a challenge, but it’s not an impossible one. Let them know they’ve got this!
12. You are not alone.
Last but not least, make sure they know they’re not alone. An injury, surgery, or diagnosis feels isolating. Be there to make sure you’ll stay with them on this health journey, no matter where it takes you.
Better Ways to Say ‘Stay Strong’ After a Heartbreak
Heartbreak sometimes comes when we least expect it. If you know someone who’s found themselves with a broken heart, say the right thing to lift their spirits. Remind them that brighter days are closer than they think. In the meantime, you’ll be there.
13. You deserve much better than this.
Splitting from a partner often means a loss of confidence and self-worth. Depending on the terms of the breakup, it could be devastating. Make it clear to your loved one that they’re worthy of love and kindness.
14. I know this hurts right now, but it’s not forever.
When we’re in pain, it sometimes feels like that pain will go on forever. How do you overcome the dark days when there’s no end in sight? While these emotions might last a long time, they aren’t forever. Every day is a little better until things return to their new normal.
15. Whatever you decide, I’m here to support you.
It’s true that we don’t always make our best life decisions after a breakup. While you should be reasonable, you should also be a source of support for your loved one. They need you now more than ever, so be there for them.
16. Heartache hurts, and I’m sorry you’re going through this.
Sometimes we just want to feel heard and understood. Let your loved one know that their feelings are valid, and it’s okay to go through this rough patch. Letting the feelings out is a natural part of the process.
17. You’ve been handling this so well. Let me know if you need anything.
Actions are the highest form of support. How can you make things a bit easier for your loved one, even if it’s just in a small way? This is what they really need at this time.
18. I’m so proud of your strength. Brighter days are ahead.
Finally, acknowledge your loved one’s brave face. Show them that you see their efforts, and you respect them. This simple phrase of encouragement might be just what they need to push onwards.
The Right Words for Difficult Situations
When tragedy or heartbreak strikes, it’s easy to feel intimidated. How do you offer support without overstepping? How do you keep your message from falling flat? If you say the “wrong” thing, the meaning might not hit its mark.
Humans cope with loss of all kinds in a variety of ways. While your heart might be in the right place with “stay strong,” this isn’t always the best way to be there for someone. It implies that strength is the only appropriate response to a hard situation, but it invalidates other feelings. Instead, these phrases above leave space for all types of reactions. More importantly, it’s a chance to be a force for good in someone’s life.