Day Seventy Seven: Anger


I don’t know the five stages of grief by heart, although I should after all of the “grief” reading I’ve done over the last seventy-seven days, but I do know that anger is one of the emotions. And I’m there. Right now. I’m angry.

I’m angry that both of my parents are dead. I’m angry that my mother and I didn’t reconcile our petty argument before she died. I’m angry that her house is now almost completely empty of her belongings. I’m angry that my sister and I have to pick through each article of her clothing and decide whether to donate it or keep it in a storage bin for the rest of our lives.

I’m angry that people are starting to wonder if I’ll ever “snap out of it.” I’m angry that my son isn’t buying my mother a gift at Santa’s Workshop at school this week. I’m angry she won’t be with me on Christmas. I’m angry that I don’t know how to make her homemade chocolate icing correctly. I’m angry that people don’t want to talk about my mother anymore. I’m angry that it’s been three months since she died, but I still feel like it’s the first day. Maybe I’m angry I can’t “snap out of it” either.

I’m not angry at God. I am too scared to be angry at God. If I get mad at Him, I’m afraid he’ll “smote” me Old Testament style. I love my Lord and I’m thankful that He blessed me with amazing parents. I’m thankful for the comfort that He’s given me through this. I’m thankful that while I’m quietly crying next to my sleeping husband, God speaks peaceful stillness to my soul. I’m not angry with Him. I’m thankful for Him. I’m thankful for the promises in His Word.

I’m just angry in general. I’m angry we live in a fallen world where sin is rampant and people have to die. Maybe I’m angry with Adam and Eve. I’m angry with this whole temporary getup, and I can’t wait to get to Heaven.

And, worst of all, I project all of that anger onto my family.

Lately I yell like a tyrant when I find toys still in the middle of the living room floor- after I’ve asked my children to put them away five times. I don’t just yell a little. I go postal. My kids can’t stand my yelling, but it does prompt them to pick the crap up off the floor. At the time, it seems like using my “outside voice” is okay because it got the results I wanted.

But then the guilt creeps in- guilt that I yelled at my children or my husband like they were criminals. Guilt that I’m taking all of the anger associated with my grief and throwing it on them.

I know yelling is damaging. I know yelling isn’t what a good wife or mother does. I know yelling makes them miserable. My mother never yelled at me, so it isn’t as if I’m repeating a vicious cycle. I don’t know where I learned to yell. I love my children unconditionally- they are my most beautiful blessings, and they know they are loved enormously- but this grief- this depression- makes me want to rant like a banshee over things that don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

I’m just so sad- and I’m angry that I’m sad.

And that anger just consumes me.

Here’s an embarrassing and horrible and shameful example:

My daughter has asked repeatedly when we are putting up the Christmas tree, buying presents, etc.. After her twentieth inquiry, I snapped. I snapped at my innocent 9-year-old.

“My mother is dead and I don’t care about the tree or presents or Christmas right now!”

She immediately began to cry.

“But it’s Jesus’ birthday,” she sniffled. “How can you not care about Christmas?”

Precious, innocent child.

For the rest of her life, she’ll remember me screaming those words at her in the car. She’ll remember when her mammy died and her mama turned into a horrible, scary person. And for the rest of my life, I’ll remember making my beautiful daughter cry because she simply asked a question about the Christmas tree.

In that moment, I projected my hurt and anger and pain onto her. That’s not what a good mother does.

So I’m angry with myself. I’m angry that I’m depressed and moody and find it incredibly hard to get out of the bed most days, which puts me in a foul mood and causes me to scream instead of acting rationally. I’ve studied my Bible and begged God to fill me with the fruits of the Spirit- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control- because that’s EVERY SINGLE THING I need right now.

But I’m still angry.

I’m not loving. Or joyful. Or peaceful. Or patient. Or kind. Or good. Or faithful. Or gentle. Nor do I have any self-control. Instead, I yell at my precious child because she wants to put up a Christmas tree in December. I scream and push my husband away because he doesn’t know how to console me. I hide in my bathroom and sob because I can’t call my mother and ask her when the anger stage of my grief will be over.

I’m angry. With my void. With myself.

But here’s another truth: even before my mother died, I’d have episodes of anger toward her. I blamed it on hormones. I blamed it on watching my Daddy die when I was a kid. I blamed it on her.

My mother was wonderful. A blessing. A beauty. Everything to me. She was everything to me. We had an overall healthy relationship. And yet, she was the only one who knew how to push my buttons. She said things, little things, that dug right through my skin and hit every nerve. Little innocent things- things that she didn’t mean any harm in saying- but they triggered a negative reaction from me.

When my children were infants, she’d walk in and immediately say something like, “Susannah, that baby needs socks on!”

That’s harmless enough, but in my warped mind, I heard her saying, “Susannah, you clearly aren’t cut out to be a mother.”

That wasn’t what she was saying at all- my mother praised me in everything I ever did– but that’s what I felt she was implying. And suddenly I was snapping at my precious mama in a tone that she didn’t deserve. “Mama! Don’t tell me my baby needs socks! I know what I’m doing!” I’d yell at her (and then go get a pair of socks).

Anger is what prompted the last argument with my mama. My stupid defensive anger. And you’d think I’d learn a lesson from it. Any sane person would learn, ‘Hey, I was angry with my mother the day before she died and now I have to live the rest of my life replaying our last conversation. I better get it together. I better quit being so angry with the ones I love the most.”

But I’m an idiot. I’ve learned nothing.

I ask the Lord to help me- to work in me and through me- to soften my heart and let my actions be pleasing to Him, despite my grief and sadness. And some days it works. Some days I’m at peace that my mother is in Heaven. I think everything is going to be okay, and I’m a real peach to be around. I radiate light and love and warmth. I’m patient and kind with my husband and children. I smile instead of cry.

Those are good days.

But others- other days it’s there. That stupid anger. Anger about my dead parents. Anger about the last argument with my mother. Anger about my stupid infertility. Anger about piles of laundry that didn’t get done because I stayed in the bed until it was time to go pick up my children from school. Anger about the mess on the floor. Anger that the dog chewed up my tennis shoe. Anger that my husband doesn’t say what I need him to say when I’m hurting. Anger that I’m sad. Anger that I’m angry.

On those days, when I’m consumed by my grief and anger, I meditate and study His Word. I go somewhere alone and pray. Lord, you know how I pray. Fervently. Constantly. Relentlessly. I pray.

But it’s still there, like the enemy- that anger seeks to kill, steal and destroy all of the joy inside of me. It hides itself deep within for a short while- a day or two- until I’m missing my mother so badly that it erupts like a volcano and everyone at my dinner table is covered in lava.

Anger that my mother is dead. Anger that my father is dead.

I wish this stage of grief was over.

I wish someone would pay me a nickel for every time I used the word “anger” or “angry” in this post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About Susannah

I'm a freelance writer, blogger, aspiring best-selling author, wife of one and stay-at-home mother of two. I was chosen for the Top 13 in Blogger Idol and contribute pieces to The Huffington Post and Hahas for Hoohas. My work has also been featured in several humorous e-books, "Southern Writers’ Magazine", "The Humor Daily", "The Funny Times" and on the Erma Bombeck website. When I'm not putting pen to paper, bandaging boo-boos or spraying Shout on unidentifiable stains, I enjoy reading, playing the piano and teaching my children all about Southern charm. God has blessed me beyond measure and to Him be the glory forever.


16 thoughts on “Day Seventy Seven: Anger

  • Gloria Escue

    Dear Sweet Susannah, anger is part of grieving. Try to always remember that ” you are your Mama and Daddy”, they are always with you. Do things for your children the best you can; they don’t understand all of this either. You hurt, your children hurt and your heart hurts. Know that God is with you and will take care of you; HE already is but you’re just too numb to feel it. Holidays are always the worst times after such a loss. Please know we are all praying for you to have the strength and hope to one day be able to pick up the pieces of your heart and make some sense of it all. Two of my friends lost their battles with cancer the past week… Be thankful for all you have.
    Much love and always in my prayers… You will be back one day.
    Glo

  • Leticia Henley Vailes

    Dear Susannah, I am exactly where you are. I can NOT wrap any of my girls Christmas gifts that I have carefully, and with deep thought ordered. I just can not do it. I am ill and grouchy.I didn’t want to put our old tree up.. So we bought a small 4 ft tree, because I knew we had to have a tree. I sit and think about all the people that loved me no matter how crazy I acted and think about how I wished I had acted differently. When David died September 23rd… I think the world completely stopped and now I am stuck. I could NOT live with him but I loved that man from 16 years old until the twelfth of never. Family choice no service, NO small family gathering to comfort one another. He was cremated and placed in a plot next to his grandfather. Our daughter & I went and bought some beautiful blue plastic flowers and placed them on his spot. It was his wishes to be cremated… I just wish we had be able to get closure. I get you completely. Grief is a hard cruel process… Everyone that knows me KNOWS I loved that man and he loved me… along with a long string of one night stand women….. I saw him peacefully forever sleeping in his bed in his room at his mothers..I knew he was gone.. I didn’t want to believe it but I knew it. Cardiac Arrest, 52 years old….The funeral home was so kind to fix him for our daughter to view her daddy.. He looked so peaceful,they had him laying on a beautiful white soft thick pillow covered in beautiful white blankets… they has a small soft fan blowing on him so his gorgeous brown hair was moving softly. Our daughter said she has to believe that “WE” are mad at each other and he will pop in one day, that is how she has to deal with the loss of her daddy… Maybe that’s how I need to believe.. Maybe being mad at this point in the grief process is how I need to handle it. I couldn’t live with him….but I am not sure how to live without him.

    • Susannah Post author

      Oh Leticia. This is so beautiful and raw and real. Thank you so much for sharing it all with me. I’m so incredibly sorry for your loss- your daughter’s loss- the loss of closure. I’m so sorry for the hurt and the anger and the sadness. You are most definitely in my thoughts and prayers. ♡

  • Debra Hudelson

    Susannah. You are doing the very best you possibly can. It may not feel like it right now, but you are. I understand the guilt. Just remember that even through the outbursts, your children have a lifetime of memories of you caring for them, loving them, being tender with them. These angry moments do not define you as a mother, a wife, or a daughter. The guilty feelings are just more proof you are a good mama. You are writing and getting it out. That will help in time. Those closest to you may get the fallout, but they also know that you love them. On the tree thing. Maybe go out of your norm, your comfort zone. Maybe let the kids put one up and decorate freestyle as they choose. Sit back and watch if you don’t want to participate, it may be funny and provide for some good writing. If you can let go of the control of it looking right. 😉 I wish and pray for some new level of comfort and calm for you Susannah. Even just a little bit. It will come when it does. If I could make it happen faster for you I would. But we aren’t in charge of all that, are we? Don’t feel rushed to be ok. You are an amazing spirit.

    • Susannah Post author

      I love you more each time I speak with you Debra. Thank you for your comment. It’s given me comfort today. Thinking of you this holiday season as well. ♡

  • Chris Carter (@themomcafe)

    I think about you all the time. I pray for you every time.. my heart keeps breaking over and over again when I try to imagine what you are going through. Your words here are so raw and real and I want so badly to take all this pain and anger away and bring back your mama!!!

    My friend, please know I am here. You’ve got my number. I love you.

  • Stephanie Kail

    Sweet Susannah-
    First of all, let me just tell you how much I love the way your name is spelled. It seriously gives me great joy when I see it…which is often because your book sits on my nightstand.

    Secondly, let me offer you words of love, hope, and kindness. The truth is that God has already answered your prayer. You have already been given the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Every. Single. One. Of. Them.

    And they are just that; they are gifts. The very understanding of a ‘gift’ is that until you accept the gift- it sits in limbo- unused, unappreciated, and sort of wasted, really.

    Unlike clothing or the latest amazing piece of Noonday jewelry or adorable adoption fundraiser t-shirt that we wear on the outside of our bodies, the gifts from the Holy Spirit occupy space in our minds and our hearts. We wear them on the inside.

    It is a scientific fact that two things cannot occupy the same space at the same time- (that has to be one of Newton’s laws right, and if it isn’t- it should be) and knowing that, it makes perfect sense that Satan is using anger to occupy that VERY SAME space in your heart and mind that could be filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

    Satan absolutely wants you to believe that the Lord is somehow forsaking you of those. He wants you to believe that you cannot have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control right now. He wants you stuck in the abyss of anger.

    Every moment of every day, satan is plotting against you and while he knows he cannot take from you your salvation- he can rob you of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

    Satan will take every chance he can to manipulate your feelings, emotions, and thoughts. It is to his advantage to keep you focused on this anger. He will try to make it appear that you cannot move forward, or enjoy life to the full. He wants you to be stuck looking backwards at all of the yesterdays- filled with regret, despair, and grief- because when he has your ‘stiff neck’ turned backwards- he has your eyes completely off of the Cross.

    Let me say it again, he cannot take your salvation but he can STEAL KILL and DESTROY your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

    Hmm… these words haven’t really felt very kind or loving just yet have they? Stay with me for a moment longer before you e-slap the crap out of me in some sort of sudden righteous fury 🙂

    2Tim 1:7 tells us that God does not give you a spirit of fear (or uncontrollable, endless anger) but one of power, love, and self-control.

    and John 10:10 tells us that while “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

    Sweet Susannah, know that while satan is working overtime to preoccupy your thoughts and emotions, Jesus has already taken care of this on the cross. Your full abundant life is right here, right now. Guard your heart and mind sweet sister, take EVERY thought captive (2Cor. 10:5) and do not allow that stupid devil snake rob you of one more minute. Those precious gifts from the Holy Spirit have already been given to you.

    Does your abundant and full life look the same as when your mother was here? Certainly not

    Do you continue to mourn her death? Certainly. Is it ok to experience the emotion of anger? Of course.

    But I believe every word of the bible and if Jesus said He came so that you can have an abundant and full life- then it is the truth. You CAN experience the PEACE of God while you mourn your mother’s death. You CAN be gentle and kind and good while you are angry. (that is not easy- it takes power, discipline and self control- and you know what- Jesus has given that to you already too!)

    Do not believe the lies of regret and guilt and despair that the devil is telling you. That stupid devil snake wants to shift your thought process just slightly- so that you are stuck in perpetual and seemingly inescapable anger.

    And Susannah- that is NOT who you are. You are not an angry, yelling, inconsolable wife and mother. That is who the devil wants you to believe that you are. Fight back my friend! Take up every piece of God’s armor and get busy defending yourself!! Speak God’s word aloud and that stupid snake has to flee from you. Let the words of Jesus soak into your precious broken heart and allow Him to heal you from the inside out.

    Thank you Susannah for your transparency. Thank you for sharing every step of this journey with us. Thank you for putting into words the thoughts of many others who may feel overwhelmed and lost in their despair and anger as well. I will stand in the gap for you and in lift you up in prayer to a Holy, Faithful and Righteous God who will deliver you, comfort you, protect you, and love you perfectly.

    Sincerely,
    Stephanie Kail.

    • Susannah Post author

      Sweet Stephanie. I don’t even have the adequate words to reply to this. I have to admit you sound just like my mother. Like you, she had such Godly wisdom and she would love this comment and tell me similar things. I’m saving this to look back on when I’m feeling overwhelmed. Thank you so much for your words of encouragement and TRUTH. I treasure this always. And I claim it. ♡

  • Delma n Collins

    Oh, Susannah I know how you hurt, I have also lost both my parents and I have no siblings. I feel so alone at times. Honey this will get better. It never leaves, but it will become something you can live with. The tree buy a tree and let the children decorate it.. Each time you feel like yelling at anyone in your path. Think about what your mother would do. This process of grieving has many different stages. You may be at anger right now, but acceptance will also come. Love you. Praying for you and your sweet family.

  • Shoshana Harris

    This is a beautiful and perfect description of grief. It is real. It is messy. It is horrifying. And it hurts. One of my angriest seasons during the unexpected loss of my sister was that everyone else’s life kept moving…when mine was at a dead standstill. For so long. I remember one day just screaming at God for taking her away. I really, really let Him have it. I was irrational enough to forego the Old Testament fear….But in hindsight, I know He understood. Nurture your closest relationships. They don’t understand what you are experiencing. And know that..what you are going through…is completely normal. You won’t snap out of it magically. But one day will come when you realize….”Hey, it has been 6 days and they have been okay.” “Hey, it has been 22 days and things are okay.” Little by little, you learn to live with the break in your heart. But Day 77…..just….lean….into….it.

  • Chris of the Woodwork

    Oh Honey,

    This is a hard part. I won’t say it’s the hardest part, but it is one of them.

    After Mom died I was flat-out PISSED. At Mom, for not taking care of herself the way she should. At God, for letting her die. At my father, who left her ten years earlier, for still being alive.

    Three days after her funeral, I had it out with Dad and his new wife. Then I cried the entire five-hour drive home.

    And I was still pissed.

    I stayed that way for about a year. Can you imagine how fun it was, living with what looked to be a she-devil? Finally, on the anniversary of her death, I made the drive down to where she was buried. I sat down in front of her headstone, and I let go. I screamed, I yelled, I cried, I blew off steam. And after I had finished with her, I gave God what I believed to be His due.

    I was there for over an hour.

    After that hour, I was spent. Spent, and somehow done with being angry.

    And guess what? God still loves me. Mom still loves me. And I’m not angry anymore.

    Have it out with her, but wait until after the holidays. Tell her how guilty you feel. Tell her how angry you are and why. Be honest and let it all out.

    Don’t be afraid to have it out with Him, either. He forgives us, and He truly does understand what we need to do to get through it all. Do it somewhere where you can yell and scream without being judged. It works much better than doing it in your head.

    And I promise, it will help you heal.

  • Jacy

    Just wanted you to know I’ve spent the last two hours reading your blogs after I’ve gone to school all day, basketball practice, and filled out scholarships! I love reading your blogs. It makes me happy. And sad. And angry, too. I like that.

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