This was written on Monday February 7, 2011
Well now that my whole life is out on the table, I’m feeling both worse and a little better. It feels really good to free, but also very exhausting since all my emotions are on the surface now. I have a long way to go and right now I feel a lot like I did the first few days or weeks after Hailey died. I have countless books on grieving, that I’ve never even picked up…until today.
I want to remind you all that it’s extremely difficult for me to open up like this and the vulnerability that I feel is beyond terrifying and overwhelming. The reason I feel so strongly about doing so is for one, to be honest with myself, but even more importantly, is to hopefully help even one person out there who may be grieving as I am to realize that they are normal and someone understands what they are going through…Me, I understand, maybe not your own personal grief, but I understand what grief feels like and does to a person. So for a little while, at least, my blog is going to take a slightly different turn and focus more on what grief is, feels like and what you can do (and not do) to help those you know who are going through this.
I’m also not going to focus on every aspect of grief, but mainly just the ones I’m dealing with. Not to be selfish, but because those are the ones I’m obviously experience in and therefore feel the need to share with those who know me well. These entries will probably be somewhat long and may be difficult for most of you to relate to, so please just bear with me. I completely understand if they don’t interest you or if you don’t want to read them.
For some reason, I guess I thought all the grief books wouldn’t apply to me. I was different. I was stronger. I had faith and a strong belief in God and His eternal plan. So therefore I was exempt to the actual grieving process. Well I was quite wrong, apparently, I’m no different than any other fellow “griever.” I may be strong, but not strong enough, and having faith and a strong belief in God doesn’t negate the fact that I’m devastated (and angry) that my daughter died. So, today while Ava was napping I just grabbed a book and started leafing through it (mainly to see if I was “normal”). Well, it turns out that yes, I am “normal!” Actually, I’m 100% textbook normal. So, I wanted to share some of the things I’ve read so far that describe me and what I’m going through that I couldn’t have explained better myself.
The first thing I wanted to share is what I read on anger, because I am experiencing that emotion the most right now. This comes from the book, On Grief and Grieving by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler. I’m going to list the quotes in italics as I read them and add my personal comments in parenthesis.
“At first, the fact that you lived through the loss is surprising to you. (So true.) Then more feelings hit, and anger is usually at the front of the line as feelings of sadness, panic, hurt, and loneliness also appear, stronger than ever. Loved ones and friends are often taken aback by these feelings, because they surface just as you were beginning to function at a basic level again.” (That last statement hit the nail on the head.)
“The truth is that anger has no limits.” (That is absolute truth.)
“If we ask people to move through their anger too fast, we only alienate them. Whenever we ask people to be different than they are or to feel something different, we are not accepting them as they are and where they are. Nobody likes to be asked to change and not be accepted as they are. We like it even less in the midst of grief.”
(I love this because I truly feel my church embraces this concept.)
“Today, most churches and clergy understand it is not unusual for people to feel anger toward God….They allow it and are not put off if you speak of it.” (I can’t say I actually feel a lot of anger towards God, Himself, but instead the anger is more at the fact that He won’t take all the pain away.)
(This is from a clergyman from an unspecified religion, but I loved so much what he said.) “Once you allow yourself to feel and speak out the anger, you may find that your God is strong enough to handle your anger, strong enough to feel compassion and love for you, even in the midst of your anger at him.” (AMEN!)
“Underneath anger is pain, your pain. People often tell us our anger is misplaced, inappropriate, or disproportionate. Some people may feel your anger is harsh or too much. (Luckily, I’ve never received that reaction from others, but I do feel that way towards myself all the time.) It is their problem if they don’t know how to deal with it. It is your job (my job) to honor your anger by allowing yourself to be angry.” (This is tough for me. I hate feeling angry and often feel very guilty for it.)
“The anger is just another indication of the intensity of your love…Anger may take on many forms. (Couldn’t be truer for me.) Unfortunately, however, anger can isolate you from friends and family at the precise time you may need them the most.” (I feel that this has happened to me quite a bit over the last year. I’m definitely not nearly as social as I used to be. So please bear with me and know it’s nothing personal against anyone!)
“You may experience feelings of guilt, which is anger turned inward on yourself. But you are not to blame. If you could change things, you would, but you can’t. (That last sentence hit home hard for me because it couldn’t be more true of how I feel every single day. I feel so guilty all the time and I would do anything to change things.) Anger affirms that you can feel, you did love, and you have lost.”
“The power of your anger may overwhelm you because for some it may be in proportion to the amount of lost love that it represents. (That of a child is beyond any amount describable.) It may seem that if you go into the pain, you will never come out of it or that the pain will never end. (I think that’s why it’s taken me so long to finally face the true pain I feel.)
Hopefully this gives you all a little insight into where my anger is coming from and being directed to. Also, for those of you out there reading this who are also dealing with the anger that stems from grief, hang in there and know that you too, are very normal.