Week 44

Forever In My Heart Friday. FIMHF. Week 44. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve watched this show over the course of my life, specifically with my best friend Cheryl, over and over and over again in high school and college. In fact, she named her youngest daughter Shelby!  But now, NOW I can’t even fathom the idea to watch it because it’s all so real to me.  The raw emotions Malynne expresses, played by Sally Fields in the video clip, is the exact emotions I felt 44 weeks ago and often what I feel now. I’m talking about white-hot, body-shaking, screaming-at-the-top-of-your-lungs ANGER. When we are grieving, anger is another indicator of how much we loved the person who died. If you feel anger over your loved one’s death, you owe no one an apology for your grief or your anger. It is human to be angry and underneath your anger is your pain. Anger can be unattractive, there’s no question about it. It’s messy and unpredictable, sometimes loud and violent. And in a world where we like things to make sense, it’s often unacceptable. Being angry is a way of channeling energy, of making some sense of the pain. When you are protesting an unjust loss, you may have every right to be angry. Emotions aren’t always rational and logical. Feelings are neither right or wrong, good or bad. They just are. And for some of us, being angry may be preferable to feeling the underlying hurt and pain of loss. The more you truly feel it, the more it will begin to dissipate and the more you will heal. It is natural to feel deserted and abandoned, but we live in a society that fears anger. Anger is strength and it can be a mainstay, giving temporary structure to the nothingness of loss.

There’s a long list of people I can be angry with. Many times when I’ve grieved I’ve been angry, although I rarely shared those feelings. Anger is like an arrow, holding steady on the curve of the bow string, waiting for a release, it craves a target. There are many reasons to be angry when a loved one dies. You may be angry because the medical professionals did not do their jobs correctly, or the person who died left you alone with a legal mess, or in a bad situation, or committed suicide. Maybe someone is responsible for your loved one’s death through reckless or violent behavior. Then there’s the feeling that maybe God let you down and didn’t answer your prayers. Yes God. Anger at God is as permissible as at any other target. If we give thanks to God for good times, it seems only natural that God would bear the brunt of at least some of our anger.  Anger hunts to locate the author of the death with the hope that somehow our deceased loved one can be retrieved or in worst case scenario some type of justice can be served. Anger erupts when we have lost control. It is an emotional response designed to regain control. It is a defense against accepting one’s own sense of impotence. This helplessness may be the most painful dimension of a beloved ones death. Ultimately, left feeling very alone, ashamed, conflicted in ones grieving.

But you know what. I found for the longest time I didn’t want to talk about it my anger until recently. Maybe because I wanted to be able to talk about it but I was worried about other people’s reactions to what I would often think about. If they knew, would they think I was “crazy”?  Would people begin “treat me differently” because of where my thoughts we at, at times?

Perfect example that I will now openly share. (* Please note I am completely sane and would never, ever in a million years act upon my feelings of anger.), Remember Chevy Chase’s Christmas Vacation when Clark doesn’t receive his long-awaited Christmas bonus, loses his shit and gives an angry rant about his boss. Here let me take you back… “Hey. If any of you are looking for any last-minute gift ideas for me, I have one. I’d like Frank Shirley, my boss, right here tonight. I want him brought from his happy holiday slumber over there on Melody Lane with all the other rich people and I want him brought right here…with a big ribbon on his head! And I want to look him straight in the eye, and I want to tell him what a cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, dickless, hopeless, heartless, fat-assed, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed, sack of monkey shit he is! Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where’s the Tylenol?”  Yeah that moment. Priceless.  Well that’s how I felt about a certain member of the medial staff that was directly in charge of treating my daughter.  All I could think about over Christmas this past year was this moment right here and that certain person that I am still to the day so angry at. I already had it planned out what I would say to them.  How I would tell them that they have ruined our lives forever.  Yeah, that kind of anger.

But the reality is that anger is healthy. Initially, anger is nothing more than an attempt to ward off a reality which is seen as too devastating to one’s own sense of survival. Consider, too, that anger is not a “requirement” of grief because not every griever will feel its force. Anger is a normal part of grief—a bridge of strength and energy (at a time when there is little of either) across the abyss of loss. The way I see it, as long as you don’t hurt yourself or anyone else, you have my permission to be angry. Embrace that anger: accept it and embrace it. Anger must be expressed or ventilated in order for it to burn out. You’re angry because you love them and want them to stay close to you always. Selfish maybe, but normal and human. Then you can work on channeling your anger into positive action, to keep your loved ones memory alive every day of your life. Mommy Loves You Myesha. FIM <3 F