Kehler Counseling Blog
Grieving is one of life's most difficult challenges.
We all will grieve. We may not even realize when we grieve. When we lose anything of importance we grieve that loss. It can be status, a home, a treasured item, a marriage, a pet and of course our loved ones. We also grieve for others, knowing their loss will be a life challenge.
Many spent this last weekend in a state of loss.
I want to pass along what normal is - as grieving, despite its universality, has its unique ways to be expressed.
One of the first, most powerful emotion is anger- before and after the tears. More often than I can count - that anger most often rises:
- When a widow sees a couple bickering or mistreating each other -they want to shake them and tell them to cherish each other - because tomorrow they may be fighting for their lives or may lose who they are fighting with or about.
- It is the overpowering feeling to shout out at the mother in the checkout line yelling at her kids to stay still when you have lost your own.
- It is when you have to grin and bear the friend who is in a nonstop tirade of complaints about her weight, clothes, wrinkles, and being over-scheduled with beauty appointments when your own terminal health issue makes these issues trivial.
- It is when you suddenly become passionate and focused about a specific cause - more often than not - directly related to the death you are enduring.
- The parents of the child lost to a drug overdose begin their rage at the 'War on Drugs' and bring the subject to any conversation - to give their loss meaning and purpose.
- They are the "Mothers Against Drug Driving" -MADD- that channeled its anger and loss to policy and awareness that our young people are saved by today.
- It is the gun ownership protests that are on non-stop discussion panels today. Take away the guns - take away my anger.
- It is when we erase, deny, minimize our own concerns for a short time - determining them trivial, shallow, meaningless - even though a day ago they were very important. We may be angry at ourselves for allowing that meaninglessness rule our moods, well-being or confidence.
- It is when we review what has been taken away and realize what little control we really have over our fate. It is being angry at being blindsided and ill equipped.
- It is frustration and remaining tight lipped when someone in the essence of 'caring' say hurtful things in their own ignorance.
- It is suppressed anger at not having a 'why' - not understanding how someone could take away another's life, of not getting proper help or treatment, of waiting too long, of not being able to say "goodbye", not being able to say "I love you" one last time.
- It is anger at 'the system' - the one that demands money for services, has restrictions, long waits, lines, schedules, and/or unexpected expectations.
- It is anger at others who are in the same event and grieving differently - making our own grieving feel somehow wrong, inadequate or too much.
- It is anger at partners who seem to be getting along without us when we may be drowning in our loss.
- It is anger at the phone calls from telemarketers, the door bell with solicitors, reporters, the curious person at the grocery store. Those otherwise low intrusive events - before the loss - that now you just want to STOP - because you're not ready for the world to keep going . . .
- It is an emotional outburst, increased volume, a quick reaction - different in its intensity to the seemingly simple event, slight, comment or joke that suddenly needs to be reacted to - when before the loss would've been ignored.
- It is sitting in a public place and seeing people laughing and carrying on - seemingly without a care in the world. . . and feeling angry that your chance to do the same has changed - and you miss it.
- It is those who need to let us know their religious view - how having it 'saved' them - as if our prayers and life were somehow off track so we got what horror occurred because of our lack. Its feeling that they don't 'get it' or feeling defensive about having a different belief.
- It is simple lack of appreciation or validation of important things by others- those around us not understanding that what's most important could be taken away in a moment.
- It is the new,hyper-awareness of how others neglect, mistreat, discount, abuse or ignore those around them - and wanting to scream for people to be more kind, appreciative, gentle, aware. . .
- It is the child who rages when they want to play but those around them are lost in their grieving they don't understand.
- It is the teen who hits and throws things when their loss is discounted or minimized and no one stops to instill hope.
- It is being angry at holidays and the expectations of having fun - when you can't get past the sorrow or feeling guilt that you are having moments of joy - when others expect you to be sad. . .
The examples or experiences are countless. They are all meaningful in their own special way. Most of us have significant difficulty managing the passionate expression of sadness as well as anger - they are very powerful experiences that many under-estimate. We need to give ourselves comfort, reach out for support, find time and places to be still and allow it. We need to embrace the silence as well as the noise. We need to become safe people for those grieving. Learning to be still - to be quiet - to hold a hand - give a hug - offer a time and place to meet in privacy. We don't need to fix it - let it be - when we acknowledge it - it calms it. Nervousness may increase our desire to talk - if you are the grieving one - ask a trusted person to spend some time - to listen. When you're in the presence of a grieving person allow their anxiety to be expressed with sharing verbally -out loud - it helps manage the emotions trapped inside. If you tire of the repetition - invite the person to meet with a new audience - whether its another loved one or a professional. You are allowed to step back or out - but I encourage you to find the person -another person to share with. A fresh audience may be exactly what they need. The passion of our anger may give our loss real meaning so we need to allay our fears of anger and allow it to be channeled.
Peace will come.
It may last only moments - but like happiness - its like stepping stones - never a steady experience - but one step at a time - stepping forward - a safe place in the rushing stream. . .
In Peace, Karen