National Characteristics

I have recently been watching the interesting series by Ian Hislop about the “stiff upper lip-an Emotional History of Britain”. Though I admit to not watching all the episodes but it really fascinated me.

There is definitely a big difference between the emotional make up of countries and its people. Having lived between the two Continents,I have experienced both and learnt from both.

According to Hislop it was not until the death of Diana, Princess of Wales that it became clear as to how much the British attitude to loss and grief has changed. From the post war generation,who took everything in their stride and “moved on” to the summer of 97 when we saw the public outpouring of grief for Diana.

I can vouch for the emotional and passionate nature of the Indians! They love to make a drama out of a crisis, if a death occurs then people throw themselves on the floor, wail very loudly and try to surpass each other in expressing their grief.

It is strange because India is a country where some form of religion is followed by the majority. And every religion states that there is an inevitable end to life,every life,so there should be a better acceptance of the phenomena?

It is not though.

I do remember when my paternal grand father died, my dad was on an inspection tour in a remote part of India, he carried on as it was a crucial stage and he could not leave the investigation and head back for his fathers funeral,which has to take place immediately as is the custom in India. I remember his eyes were red and he was very quite for a couple of days,but I did not see him cry or bemoan the fact that he was putting duty first.

He was vilified by the family for this “callousness’. He never explained it to anyone nor did he make any excuses. At the time I too thought that this was a heartless gesture, and then I remembered that he has spent most of his life in the UK,and his values were different.

Having lived in the UK for most of my life and having worked in the caring profession,I have seen many examples of stoicism and the stiff upper lip. I think I have become something similar,as I feel that coping with adversity and whatever that life dishes out is the way to go! Crying and breast beating rarely,if ever achieves anything.

My husband on the other hand has remained true to his eastern values. Since his diagnosis of cancer he has not coped emotionally at all well. “why me” and “poor me” has made the situation worse. Where as I have the job of keeping both of our spirits up, and encouraging him and treating him as near “normal” as I can.

He has now gone to India for a month or so,and though he is having the best treatment the NHS can offer , I am worried that if he tells his extended family,am afraid there will be a price to pay! Everyone will feel sooooo sorry for him and treat him like cotton wool, that he will come back more vulnerable than he is.

I probably am seen as a heartless woman,who doesn’t bursts into tears at every possible opportunity, though I feel that if I became miserable ,then the cancer would have claimed two victims.

So do you think t is better to face the slings and arrows of life or gave way to collective grief? And as it has been said that I have become “hard’ due to my profession as I have seen it all!

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