“I’m mad as hell…”

I’m probably dating myself here but this is from the movie Network. When the aging news anchor finds out he is being let go for a younger, sassier version he shares his frustration with the viewing public, ending with the final burst of “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”  He then instructs everyone in tv land to open their windows and shout it out into the world, which being a movie, lots of people proceed to do.

Imagine how freeing that might feel.  Anger is one of the “stages” in Kubler-Ross’ list of 5 that are commonly talked about and although there has been a great deal of change in view toward this stage theory, most people will still experience several of those emotions.  I think that anger is one of the most challenging for people.  Nice people don’t get angry.  You definitely don’t express it if you do feel it.  You are supposed to push it away, smile, forgive everyone.  I was brought up that it’s not “ladylike” to get mad and behave in an “impolite” manner i.e. “angry”.

But how can you not feel angry when your child or partner or best friend or other significant person was taken from you and you are left behind to try to figure out what to do?  Maybe you’re angry at the medical community who couldn’t figure out how to cure that kind of cancer or at the driver of that car who didn’t see the red light or that thing they call SIDS that took your baby away in the middle of the nite.

And then there are those unspeakable angers.  If you are a person of faith, you may find yourself wanting to scream and yell at God.  I mean, if God is so loving, how could He do this to me?  Why?  What did I do to deserve this?  I’ve tried to be good.  I’ve always tried to do the right thing-play by all the rules.  For many, this can be a very difficult and shattering experience.  If not handled well, some people may turn from their faith altogether.

The other even more disturbing anger for many is the shock of feeling angry at the person who died.  Guilt and self-recrimination can only confuse an already overwhelming situation.  Many spouses feel angry at being left with all the burdens of home, children, bills.  Parents may be angry at children who died because of irresponsible behavior like drunk driving or taking drugs.  And then there’s just being angry at them in general for leaving you and making you go through all this pain.  You may think it’s irrational but you feel it just the same.

And that is the key.  You feel it.   It is just part of the normal grief process that our psychological system has designed to help us work through this loss experience.  It is normal.  How it will show up and its intensity is different for each of us and is influenced by many things like the nature of your relationship with the person, the circumstances of the death, any experiences you had with death as a child, religious and cultural beliefs, etc.

The most important thing is that you allow yourself to feel what you feel, even the anger.  Express it in some way even if it’s only in private.  You don’t have to yell and scream either- there are lots of different ways.  Just acknowledging it and knowing that it’s ok is a good place to start.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Clare Flourish
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 20:23:23

    I am learning this, and working through the huge weight of rage from childhood. And finding my anger at things now. It can be done.

    Reply

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