I’ve just left my Grandads house, he’s 92 and a stubborn old bastard.
Even though he’s stubborn, I love him dearly. To be honest, his stubborn attitude is probably why he’s lived so long. He lives on his own, cooks his own meals, looks after his gardens and even still drives.
The old boy was still jogging around the corner each morning even when he was 90.
More importantly (and the inspiration behind this post) he’s been through some shit times.
Lack of opportunity.
No money and at times, no food.
He lost his only Son (my Dad) to suicide back in 2009, and a month later he lost his Wife of over 50 years to Cancer.
Even through all of this, I’ve never seen him cry. I’ve never seen him show any real pain or emotion.
As he talked to me this morning about his past, I found myself feeling like a lot of us in todays generation wouldn’t be able to handle what he (and others back then) went through.
Both my Grandad and Nan went through a lot when they were younger…
But throughout my whole childhood, I never saw pain in their eyes. I never saw them grieving, I never saw them struggle and I don’t think I’ll ever know the extent to what they’d been through.
I’ve been through a fair bit of tragedy in my life too.
Losing my Dad to suicide, losing my Nan a month later, my Mum nearly dying from Alcoholism a few months after and my Brother nearly losing his life 6 months ago are all noticeable ‘shit’ times in my life.
But could I handle a war?
What would I have done or felt if my Mum or Brother did die?
Could I go years with very little opportunity?
It got me questioning myself, but also questioning us as a generation…
Are We Weak?
Suicide is at an all time high, with more men (and women) taking their own lives than ever before.
Depression and mental health is affecting more and more people each day, but on paper the opportunities we have and reality of life should reflect a decline in depression and suicide.
I can see why my Grandad may have contemplated suicide, battling through war and seeing people close to him die in the dozen.
But my Dad? He had a lot going for him. A full time job, a part time business, a family, friends, money in the bank, his health…
Was my Dad weak?
I’ve spoken about this in more detail on other posts, including the popular ‘Why Men Kill Themselves’ post.
And it’s not that I feel like my Dad or us as a generation are weak, but there’s obviously a ‘difference’ in how my Grandad’s generation deal with emotional trauma to how we as a generation deal with it.
Here’s What I Think
As a generation, I feel like we forget to truly embrace everything we have available to us. The opportunities that exist are staggering.
But too much opportunity is maybe causing us to choose the wrong decisions, get overwhelmed with how we should look and feel and feel isolated.
When my Grandad grew up, he tells me things we’re very black and white (literally).
You got told to go to War, you were told to get a Job, you were told how to behave and what to do.
Opportunity existed, but it wasn’t readily available like it is today.
Did the lack of choice and the lack of opportunity allow my Grandad to just get on with things?
I believe that community plays a big part in it as well.
I wrote in more detail about the lack of community being a trigger for depression last week, and although the opportunities social media gifts us is staggering it also takes away community, physical interaction and a lack of support (community) can leave us feeling isolated.
My Grandad never compared himself to another War veteran on Instagram, who posed with a picture of his wife who was younger and in better shape than my Nan…
My Grandad never found himself swiping right on a Tinder match to meet my Nan…
He had support around him, he had community, and even though he lost a lot of people around him he never felt isolated or lost on his own.
Now we’re also told and naturally deal with our emotions differently.
My Grandad doesn’t get emotional much, but he can’t stay indoors in silence. He keeps busy, he distracts himself and at times I’ve seen him simply ignore conversations he doesn’t want to have.
When my Dad died he walked in, slammed his fist on the Kitchen surface and said… “that’s that then”.
At my Nan’s funeral after the service, he walked off towards a tree on his own for a brief 5 seconds and then turned around to face everyone. He smiled, told a joke and carried on.
When I told him about my Brother’s accident, it was the first time I’d seen a tear in his eye. He wiped it away quickly, and will never claimed he cried but I’m counting that tear as emotion.
It was the first time I saw his pain, the first time I saw grief.
But as weeks went on he avoided conversations about Steve and his recovery, he spoke mostly about himself and kept busy blocking out what had happened. To this day, he’s been to visit him once (in 6 months) and the time he visited was only because they were in the same hospital together.
Does this mean he doesn’t care? That he doesn’t love my Brother? Of course not, he adores him. But he chooses to ignore it, he chooses to bury the pain and get on with things.
Is that healthy? I mean he’s lasted 92 years…
But to me, I couldn’t live like that. Burying any emotional pain down and distracting myself.
My Grandad deals with emotion how he does. I deal with emotion how I do. Are any of us weak? To me, we’re both strong. We both find emotional strength in different ways but we both handle what’s thrown at us.
What Do You Think?
I’d love to hear your thoughts…
Are we weak as a generation?
What differences do you see in how you deal with emotions in comparison to how your grandparents deal with emotions?
Let me know in the comments below 🙂