Of all the emotions one must deal with when facing the loss of a child, anger may be the most difficult to come to terms with. It is the least acceptable emotion to society. It can be the most destructive to us and those who love us. It is the most confusing, and it is the most uncomfortable emotion for us to face up to.
When I’m sad or depressed I don’t enjoy it, but I still feel as if I’m resolving something that needs to be resolved. When I’m angry I feel wholly negative. I feel bad about myself. I feel like I’m giving into something I shouldn’t. I can understand intellectually that anger is normal and natural, but deep inside I still feel all wrong about it.
And yet anger must also be resolved. If I don’t feel it, it can’t be resolved and it can hang me up.
One thing I’m starting to understand is that if I tamp down my negative emotions I also tamp down my positive ones. If I want to feel loving and understanding I have to face sadness and anger. They are all part of the same system, and I’m not complete without the whole messy pile.
Anger is different though, it’s not so easy to work around. It will play itself out one way or another. It will either turn outward or inward. When anger turns outward we boil over at people and in situations that aren’t really the focus of our anger. When it turns inward we become guilt ridden, self-loathing and depressed.
I’ve been angry lately, it’s probably the main reason I haven’t been sharing much in here. I’m still not comfortable discussing it publicly. There are a number of reasons for this, some are specific to the circumstances of Kevin’s death, but a lot of it is just the reality that I’m not comfortable with it and I’m still struggling to find the proper balance.
In one of my letters to Kevin I discussed my need to “lean into the pain” in order to find a way through this. I compared what I had to do to navigating an emotional minefield, but it was more than that. I couldn’t just tiptoe though the mines to get to the other side. I had to tromp around and set them all off, so that someone else wouldn’t be caught up in an explosion meant for me. I need to be my own personal minesweeper. I think most of those mines are fueled with anger. I think most of the collateral damage done to families and loved ones in the aftermath of the death of a child are due to unresolved anger that goes off in an unintended direction.
I’ve worked past my recent anger. It feels good to be done with it for now. It’ll come back for sure; when it does I’ll wrestle with it again. I’ll do my best to keep it focused in a way that minimizes collateral damages. Maybe some day I’ll feel OK about sharing my thoughts more specifically, maybe not. I make no promises on that score.