Stuck In The Anger Stage Of Grief

So my dad is dead and I’m in the anger stage of grief and those angry emotions are constantly boiling right under the surface of my emotional skin. A handful of weeks ago, I was preaching to the kids that it’s important to remember not to let the little things get to us and remember what’s important. Then the next week, I’m flying off the handle when William asks if he can pick a tv show. I wish I could say I’m exaggerating. After epitomizing the meaning of the word “overreacting,” I was standing in the kitchen, not sure what to do. Then Antwan came in and hugged me. And he said, “maybe you just haven’t been hugged for a long time.” (In other news, Antwan is a sweet child.)

But, really, I have had lots of hugs lately. I’ve hugged my husband, my kids, my sisters, nieces, nephews, my friends and my mom. But, I haven’t hugged my dad. I will never hug my dad again. You can get faith-y and tell me that I will be with him one day and get the heaven version of hugs. I hope with everything in me that that’s true, but right now, it gives me very little comfort. Actually, it gives me no comfort whatsoever.

I don’t really know what to say in this post. I can’t end it with a hopeful spin at the end like I usually do. Well, I can, but you will all know I’m lying. And I’m not writing this to give the impression that I think I’m unique in this loss because, of course, literally everyone loses their parent eventually. The levels of connection with the parents vary but it does happen to everyone. So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I did, too. And, yet, somehow I am. Even though, I always dreaded it.

Growing up, I saw my parents as older. My mom had me later in life which was really only 36, actually, but it seemed so much older since my friends’ parents were all younger. Either way, I always kind of feared my parents’ deaths.

As an adult, I was keenly aware of how fortunate I was that both of my parents were alive and well. As the years passed, it always crossed my mind that this Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc, could be the last and tried to get pictures and just treasure it as much as possible.. But, still I was surprised when it really was the last. My dad’s 85 birthday was his last birthday and as it turns out, his last full day of life. I mean, one day, he is celebrating his 85th birthday and eating a blueberry donut from the best donut shop in town; and the next day, his heart stopped. It’s unreal. It doesn’t make any sense and I still don’t understand.

I guess I’m writing this post to help myself work through it. I’m writing to get it out of my head a little and while I’m at it, if anyone is in a place of feeling really pissed off at the universe, know that I feel you and you are not alone. And, I wish neither of us was here.

I was so looking forward to this Thanksgiving. My oldest sister, her husband, and their two adult children (one of them bringing along a wife and their first child) were all coming. My nephew was excited to introduce their baby to his great grandparents and I’m guessing my Arizona based sister’s awareness of fleeting time was her motivation to get everyone to come this year. Little did she know how fleeting it is and that it would be too late.

It was going to be so awesome. We would get family pictures and it would be the best.

But, instead, a few days before they arrived, he died. I’ll spare you all the sad details. And just say it sucked. Oh my God, it sucked. My head is screaming right now as I type this part. The last night in the hospital is rushing back into my memory so forcefully that I can’t even think of a creative analogy to use. It just sucked. And, I am so mad. I don’t know who to be mad at. No one, really. Mad at the dog for being outside or at my dad for going to get him without his cane, causing him to fall in the first place?  Of course not. Mad at the doctors for not knowing his heart was having issues? No, I guess they did everything they could. Mad at God or the universe? Well, yeah, actually, bur I know that I shouldn’t be.

I’m also a little mad at a stranger in Walmart, a couple days after Thanksgiving. He was trying to talk to Lizzie and Antwan about Thanksgiving. Eventually, after several disappointing responses from them about the day, I finally turned around and explained that my dad passed so it wasn’t a festive holiday for us. I don’t recall if he expressed sympathy, he probably did. What I do remember is him commenting that God has a plan and that God doesn’t make mistakes. I nodded politely and we went on our way. But, inside, I was fuming. Partly, because he didn’t know me so he shouldn’t have said those things but also because I wasn’t in a place where I could accept the idea that losing Dad was anything but a mistake. A month and a half later, I still believe that it isn’t ok that he is gone and that if it is really part of a plan, then it’s a lousy one.

I don’t know what to do. I’m keenly aware that while it might get better, it never really gets good. Every big moment will always be a little sad because he’s not there and every family event will forever be a little lacking. I’m just not a fan of this system.

I only know this. I have to figure it out. Somehow. I have to figure out how not to be so angry and how to work through it. Right now, I’m not working through it, I’m just working and that can be effectively distracting. I know that I look forward to getting to the acceptance stage of grief . That’s just gonna rock. But, for now, I guess I’m just going to be angry for awhile.



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4 thoughts on “Stuck In The Anger Stage Of Grief

  1. I'm so sorry to hear about you dad. Yes, it does suck. It is horrible. There is no redeeming value in losing loved ones. But just know that many of us are walking around with holes in our hearts, and yet we still have learned how to laugh again, learned how to get beyond the anger phase of grief.I think of this when I hear the phrase: \”Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.\” It sometimes helps me to realize that the person who is doing such a poor job at customer service may be grieving a recently lost loved one. Not that I'm always sweet and understanding — but occasionally I can be.


  2. So sorry for your loss. I know it's awful, but it's also true that one day you'll feel happy when you think of him. You WILL relish the thought that he was a good dad and he did his best to teach you many things. He was a good father and grandfather and in the mean time, you'll be sad and it will hurt and it's okay to feel sad, so do it and feel bad for yourself, because this sucks and that is how it is. BUT it will get better and we all go on and you have love in your life to sustain you in the mean time, so embrace that too.


  3. I'm sorry for the super late response. Thank you for this, it was comforting. I look forward to the day when the memories don't hurt. Because there definitely are some good ones. 🙂


  4. Sorry for the delay in responding, Thank you for your kind words! I try to remember the same thing. I tell the kids that a lot, that everyone has their own challenges. I'm glad that you are sometimes sweet and understanding, by the way. ha 😉


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