Recent news in our area has left many people angry, especially when innocent lives are taken because of someone else's irrational behavior. Anger is a very strong emotion and can leave those who feel its wrath and us feeling drained, confused and often filled with regrets.
When death has robbed us of someone we love, after the shock has warn off, we may feel angry. We may be angry at the deceased for leaving us, after all they promised it would be forever. We may be angry at someone who we may feel is to blame some how. If suicide claimed our loved one we may be angry at not only them, but ourselves for not recognizing the signs. Many have blamed God or some higher power. Anger is a very real emotion after the death of someone we love.
Once the initial shock has warn off, and the pain starts, all too often so does the bitterness and anger. Yet anger is a very normal response to loss of any kind. Our relationship with the deceased can cause the anger to be even more intense, but this is natural. In grief, anger is just one of the many stages if you will that we go through during the grieving process. It is also one that allows us to move closer to healing.
When Rachel died and after the shock had gone, I realized that even though I didn't blame anyone for her death, I was still angry. I somehow managed to hide it well until one day, a total stranger called the house, asked for Rachel and I just lost it. I went ballistic on this poor individual, who had no idea of course that Rachel had died. To my surprise, this caring soul never hung up on me, let me vent and somehow we resolved what ever it was that needed to be taken care of. After I hung up the phone, I realized that all the pent up anger had simply reached its boiling point and this poor woman was the one that happened to be in the path of the volcano. It was at this juncture that I realized I was definitely not going to be able to take this ride alone, I needed to find a support group, counselor, something. I called my physician and she got me in touch with my counselor, who helped me work through my anger and all the other confusing emotions.
Looking back now, I realize how scary it was for not only me, but others around me. How frustrating to have so much emotion come pouring out, with no sense of control, no way of stopping myself. I cannot honestly say how long I felt angry, but I know it did go on for some time. I remember one night, I had retreated to the bedroom and I just sat on the bed yelling at God, wanting to understand, wanting to know why. Giving a voice to all my hurt and pain, and just letting all those angry tears roll down my face. When I had finished, I felt a great sense of relief, as if I had been able to unburden myself of the heavy load I was carrying. I do remember sleeping better that night.
For some of you who may have recently lost a loved one, know that when you acknowledge your anger, let it boil to the surface, you allow yourself to find healing. You can now begin to find ways to get through it. Some people have no problem expressing it, giving it a voice. If on the other hand, you like me, try to keep your emotions in check, when it finally rears its ugly head, we are blown away by it.
In the book, 'In Times of Grieving' by Robert M. Hamma, there is a beautiful prayer that speaks to our anger.
Why God? Why now?
There was so much to live for,
so much ahead of us, so many dreams.
Now they are all gone.
Do you hear me God?
Do you know how angry I am?
My heart is broken, my hands are bleeding.
My anger is a sharp-edged stone,
but I am clutching it tightly,
it's all I have right now.
Will you give me something else to hold on to?
As I typed this, I felt that pulling of my heart and how I remember my own anger, how I was mad at Rachel for not pulling over when she felt tired. How I was angry, because she had so much to live for, she had plans and dreams. How so unfair that we could no longer see her, hear her voice or touch her. How I would not be able to she her married some day, hold her children or be able to tell her how proud of her we were. All these thoughts once left me feeling so bitter, so angry. Now, even though it still hurts to know that I will not experience new firsts with Rachel, it does not provoke anger, simply a longing and an emptiness.
Anger is not easy, and often it is misdirected and some poor family member, friend or as in my case, a total stranger feels the sting of it. I hope that you will find a compassionate person who will allow you to vent, to scream, to throw something if you need to, or to punch that pillow as hard as you can. There are many ways to help you through you anger, some people have found that writing the anger on paper was helpful. Writing a letter not to be mailed, but simply to vent your feelings, addressing what you feel is the cause of the death, etc. For some is it breaking and smashing something, I read it somewhere that if you have yard sale dishes in your basement or garage, grab some and have fun breaking them. (I would recommend this be done outdoors.) There are so many creative ways to help people vent their anger.
Like I have said before, and any good book or website on grief will tell you, find what works best for you. Do what feels right, what makes you feel better. If you find that you are afraid that your anger and emotions are out of control, seek the advice and help of your physician or a counselor. Find a support group, preferably a group who has suffered the same type of loss as you. There are widow/widowers groups, groups for parents, siblings, children, for those who lost a love one to suicide, homicide or illness. Your physician, local church or hospitals may have a list of local organizations and support groups. You can also find many on line, that may have chapters in your area.
It is important to realize that anger is very much a part of our grieving. Once it is recognized and acknowledged, we can begin to allow ourselves to start healing.
And remember that the pain and anger of grief is all because we loved them so much.
Blessings! and until we meet again.