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Using Anger Instead of Grief
I remember immediately after losing my father that I felt angry. But why? I have asked myself this question many times in my life, usually after someone I cared for died. Here are some things I’ve learned on my journey of self-discovery.
Sooner or later Everyone Leaves – or Dies.
This is one of the truths we all have to come to terms with eventually. We will lose people throughout our lives. Some of these losses will make us sad and angry, while others will not. I had to ask myself why this is true and learned that it has a lot to do with our relationships with the person we lost.
When my father died, at first I was very sad, but then I got angry. How could he leave us? How could he just give up the fight and die? Why didn’t he get treatments sooner? Why; Why; WHY? This was the most difficult time for me in relation to this situation. I was newly married and had a mother and four younger sisters who depended on me for help. I soon began to see that my questions were somewhat absurd. After all, Dad didn’t make the choice to die and leave his family, did he?
I realized I was angry because he left me to deal with my brothers and my mother alone and he wouldn’t be there for me! Yes, I pissed off our egos. Dad let me fend for myself in life. Without his help, guidance and understanding. I was completely angry, angry with GOD. It just wasn’t fair!
But soon the anger left me as life progressed and it wasn’t until I lost my husband a few years later that horrible anger resurfaced. I quickly recognized the symptoms. Feelings of abandonment, loss of support and love from the person I planned to spend the rest of my life with. Being forced into single motherhood and more. This time I got angry with my husband. Because he refused to see a doctor even after we begged him to go. This was a case where it would take a long time to stop blaming and forgive him for leaving us alone.
After a while I remarried, but this marriage also ended in loss. Another kind of loss. This time it was the loss of a dream. All I really wanted back then was to be a wife and mother. Oh, I know that sounds gross now, but it’s the truth. This time my marriage was stolen by alcoholism. She came in, grabbed my husband and ruined our lives. I never thought I could ever get a divorce, but the alcohol abuse and accompanying violence changed my views.
My anger at losing my self-respect by allowing myself to become an abused wife was debilitating. But I finally forgave myself for being so weak and vowed never to lose that part of me again, and I haven’t. One more try. I remarried several years later and this time everything seemed to fall into place, until…
Cancer took my husband and left me with a thirteen month old son and three other children. Anger is probably not the best word. I guess you could say I was furious with God for doing this to me again. How could he leave me like this? What about my children? But, again, as time went on I learned something. Again I remembered my selfishness. It was one night when my son told me he felt sad that stepdad died because now he couldn’t take him fishing. Talk from the mouths of babies!
It was the slap I needed. Nobody, God, did anything to me. It was simply my husband’s time. The cycle of his life had begun. It wasn’t a deliberate attempt to hurt or destroy me. And I don’t believe it was some kind of test. It just was what it was.
Since then I have suffered more losses of family and friends. But I see now that anger, whether short-term or long-term, is really just a natural reaction to having something taken away from you. A reaction to feelings of having no control, of missing something you valued in your life.
No one really knows what happens when we die. We have beliefs, of course, but as far as I know nobody really KNOWS. Along with this uncertainty comes fear and in fear we find a reaction like anger. Yes, anger can be a result of fear. It’s what pumps adrenaline through your bloodstream and prepares you for fight or flight.
But fear can also teach us. If you feel angry after losing a loved one, don’t feel ashamed or alone. It is one of the natural progressions through the cycle of sorrow, just as death is the natural progression of the cycle of life. Look deep into your anger and see if you might just be afraid to live without…
Eventually the anger will go away and bittersweet memories will emerge to take its place…True! I know, been there, done that.
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