Keep Calm and Carry On? Not So Fast!

keep-calm-(1).pngHi, kids! I see a lot of t-shirts, posters and memes with the phrase “Keep Calm and Carry On.” You’ve probably seen them too. The message is clear - when times are hard, keep your emotions in check and keep moving on. 

Sometimes this is useful advice. The message comes from a 1939 poster that the British government produced to boost the morale of its country’s people. A war was coming, and it was a scary time. Showing calm and a determination to carry on gave people a common goal and helped to promote unity during a very trying time. 

But there are times in our grief when we need to do more than just “keep calm and carry on.”  When waves of sadness, anger or guilt crash into us, our brain, heart and body may feel out of sorts – not calm at all. And that’s okay. The thoughts and emotions that come with grief can be intense. They speak to the strength of the love you had for the person who died. Life is different without them, and it isn’t really possible to carry on as if nothing has happened. So what do we do?  

Instead of trying to simply keep calm and carry on through grief, let yourself feel everything that bubbles up, even if it is messy. If you need to yell, let out a nice scream – into a pillow is always good. If you need to cry, grab a box of tissues and let the tears flow. If you have pent up energy that needs a place to go, punch a pillow or throw water balloons against the sidewalk with a shout and watch them burst (remember to pick up the pieces when you’re all finished). These actions give us a way to express what we’re feeling rather than trying to keep it inside. You or the people in your life might have some other ideas, too. And always remember to let someone know if you have feelings that seem overwhelming or too much to handle on your own. 

You have the right to feel your pain and to give it a voice. Doing that can help soften your grief, and when you’ve gotten out some of those BIG feelings, you may feel again like you really can “keep calm and carry on.” 

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