Grieving and Anger

I am going to focus on grieving and growth for the few days.    The most commonly known process of grief is Elisabeth Kubler-Ross five stages of grief. 

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance 

Grief is not a linear process.  What is referred to as “stages” is a framework to understand how grieving works.  The stages don’t necessarily go in order and you can “go back” to other stages.  You can also be in two stages at once, such as depression and bargaining and/or anger.

Grief and loss is not limited to the death of a loved one, coworker, friend, or beloved pet.  You can grieve any loss.  Examples of loss include: divorce, the ending of a relationship, jobs, friendships.  You can grieve changes, even positive ones like graduating college.

Loss is defined as:

1.”The state or feeling of grief when deprived of someone or something of value.

“I feel a terrible sense of loss”

2. A person or thing that is badly missed when lost.

“She will be a great loss to many people.”

(Merriam- Webster)


Anger

I want to focus on anger.  This can be a confusing emotion.  In the past, I was angry at a friend who had died.  He drove intoxicated and wrecked his car.  I was angry at how he died and angry at him for dying.  I also felt guilt and anger at myself. I “should have” picked him up at the bar when he called.  I was tired and heading for bed and just didn’t want to go out.  I “should have” gone with him and his friends to the bar as designated driver.  At times it was a general sense of anger at the Universe and the Deity for not saving him.  These emotional responses are normal.  It took me years to understand and let go of the guilt. 

I grieve the death of myself.  I am angry about the changes that happen due to my brain injury: that I did not recover fully and at all I have lost. At times I get angry at the people trying to help.  I just want to be left alone.  It’s a blind, impotent anger.  There’s nothing I can do to change the situation.  Here, anger is not helpful.  It prevents continued healing and perhaps acceptance by holding me hostage. 

Reflection

I mentioned yesterday that I felt a draw to the prayer/ chant that I posted.  During meditation today, anger kept coming in- both the emotion and thoughts around it.  You know, it’s possible to be angry about being angry?  I don’t like where this form of anger is leading me.


Anger can be healthy and helpful.  It’s basically telling you that there is something in your environment needing your attention.  It’s what you do with it and how it impacts you that matters.  For example, is the anger harming you or someone else?  Do you carry it and can’t release it?  Do you know what’s causing it?  These can be signs the anger isn’t helping you.

Feeling anger, acknowledging it, and figuring out what to do about why you’re angry is where it can be helpful.  It’s motivating change.  Trick is to not respond in the heat of anger.  Great phrase.  Heat.  It’s ok to take a break and let the anger cool before you make a decision or take action.

My anger isn’t good for me right now.  It’s there- about everything and triggers easily.  I suppose I’m angry about the brain injury and what it did to me.  Angry my life isn’t what I want it and I’ll never get what I had back.  It’s a dark anger.  I withdraw, I swear at people, I just want to be alone. I’ve hit stuff and blown up verbally at people and situations.  Anger goes hand in hand with frustration.  Anger makes it hard to enjoy anything.  It is darkness.  Like a black hole that draws me in.  I’m struggling to release anger over something I can’t control and can’t fix.  I’m certainly not at peace very often.

Love: wow.  Now there’s a concept.  I’m starting to really hate people sometimes.  Hate drama.  Hate people hurting each other.  Hate people trying to push morals off on others.  Angry about political candidates running on hate and fear.  Hate abusers.  Sadly, hate people for being “normal.”  Hate that they don’t understand what people with disabilities experience, especially when they’re “invisible.” People can look “normal” and still have some serious issues going on.  This is broken.  This isn’t who I was.  I’m not sure if this is who I will be now.  I suppose I don’t totally hate people. I still care about people and what happens to them.  I’d still help if I could.  Maybe it’s just the drama and actions that piss me off.  Back to boiling anger. 

This anger isn’t serving a purpose anymore.  I know there’s shit in my life I need to do something about.  I’m just not sure what or how. And it’s hurting my life. 

Maybe it’s grieving.  I’ve spent the last few years trying to “fix” myself and be who I was that I never really considered it could be long term.  I have lost so much.  

I  need to make a conscience decision to release this. It’s a process.  It takes more than once to really totally let go of anger over situations.    Or I could just avoid drama and people and frustration… And try to figure out how to numb myself totally again.  

Heal what’s broken.  Broken isn’t totally physical.  Enlighten the darkness.  Restore peace and love.

On anger

“Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one that gets burned.”  Buddha

Anger is a normal human emotion.  It can be a healthy response to a situation.   However, anger is not an acceptable emotion in society, especially in women.  Women are taught to “be nice” and not demonstrate anger.    Unresolved anger causes problems.  Anger will leak out if it is not addressed.  For example, I recently snapped at a co-worker.  I was working on a memorial for the Women’s Veterans’ Forum.  There was a lot of stimulation.  People were talking in the connected office; laughing and joking.  The building was shaking from the construction next door.  I was trying to concentrate and having difficulty focusing.  I was angry at myself and my inability to focus.  I was angry at the changes in my cognitive abilities caused by the concussion.  I was annoyed at my coworkers for making noise.  That reaction was not “fair” but a response to the situation.  My supervisor walked in and asked a question.  I ended up unloading all the built up frustration and anger on her.  Fortunately, she understands TBI and stress.  She handled the situation as a professional helping someone in need.  This was an example of leaking anger.   I was not angry at my supervisor.  I had unresolved, unrecognized anger from other sources.  Unresolved anger also leads to hate and mistrust.

Healthy anger can motivate change.  Any powerful emotion is a signal that something in life needs attention.  What is the cause of the anger?  What actions can be taken to address the situation?  If the problem can’t be resolved, how do you release the anger?   Action does not indicate a loss of control.  Take my situation at work.  How could I have managed the anger at my noisy co-workers?  If I recognized the anger and accepted my emotion, I could make different choices.  For example, I could take a break from the project.   I could also approach my coworkers, explained the project, and asked them to joke quietly.  Instead, I shoved down the anger and it came out at someone who was an innocent bystander.

Since the concussion, my emotions are more on the surface.  This has advantages and drawbacks.  I have to be more aware to my feelings, the environment, and triggers.   On the other hand, I tend to struggle more with maintaining balance.

The quote by Buddha reflects the harm that comes by holding onto anger.  It only hurts the angry person.  It does not matter if the anger is at someone else or life or yourself.  Unresolved anger burns.  It turns bitter and breeds more anger.

Anger is present in my life.  I am angry at the accident, my brain, and my body.  I feel as though my body and brain have betrayed me.   I am angry at myself for getting into the accident.  The brain is not healing as before.  I am different.  I don’t like all the changes.   I am angry that I can’t run like I did before, at my cognitive slowness, at my weakness.    At times, the anger motivates me to work harder on my rehabilitation.  Other times, it sucks the energy away.  I get bitter and feel helpless.  Resolving the anger is an act of acceptance.  It is a process.   I have to accept who I am today, at this moment.   Tomorrow, next week, next month, next year may be different.  I will continue to improve.  This is who I am at the moment.  I may, eventually, have to accept that there are permanent changes in my life and brain function.  I must learn to embrace myself.