The problem with a stiff upper lip

Is that you forget empathy.

I find myself battling tears most days when I listen to the news. Today as I pressed my lips together to compose myself I thought, why? Why do we see tears as a sign of weakness when they can actually drive us to do good things?

It’s easy, with the overwhelming amount of bad stuff in the world, to just close yourself off. Not listening to it, not thinking about it, avoiding people who are going through it, can seem clever. I’ve seen those posters telling you to surround yourself with people who won’t bring you down…

But what happens when you’re the one who’s sick or grieving or depressed? Are people going to distance themselves from you then, just like you did? I remember someone saying that after their wife died, people used to cross to the other side of the street to avoid having to speak to him.

So actually, the stiff upper lip, the avoidance tactics, are the coward’s option. The brave thing to do is to show your tears and share the tears of others. Together, then, you’ll find a way through. Swallowing your emotions and turning your back on anyone or anything that might make you let your guard down is a very lonely place to be.

Sometimes I wish we were part of a culture where grief is taken up by whole communities, loudly and unapologetically. But seeing as we’re in stuffy old Britain, let’s throw Mr Darcy and his upper lip into his pond and learn to cry again.

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