When We Are Angry

My husband was sick for quite a while before his second diagnosis which was in fact a terminal diagnosis of cancer.  I knew he was sick and probably he did too.  Four months before we received the diagnosis of metastatic cancer we went on a doctor visit because he felt bad.  I taped my mouth shut and sat in the doctor’s office in protest while he convinced the doctor that he was okay while he received a diagnosis of pre-diabetes.  He was gone in four months.  I have rode waves of anger over these last two years about this that finally eased into a ripple of forgiveness and understanding.  He was worried too and had been through enough scans and surgeries for years.  He was tired of it all and wanted some normalcy and peace.  It had settled into his mind that the cancer was never coming back.  I knew different.  I am angry that we only got six weeks of time with him after that final diagnosis.  I look back and think about what we would have gained from an earlier diagnosis.  What we could have shared.  How we could have been better prepared.  The things that could have been said that weren’t.  He was too sick at that point and our days were about managing his pain and suffering, not writing love letters and taking family videos and cementing our love.  I am angry.

Many people who write to me admit this too.  They are mad that their children got addicted to drugs and died of an overdose and left them to grieve a lifetime of searing pain and regret that there might have been more that they could have done.  Parents who die who were abusive and leave their children to grieve with mixed emotions and unresolved questions of why. Wives and husbands are upset at what they found out after the fact when their spouses die~ hidden love letters, bills left unpaid, empty bottles of booze hidden in closets and under the beds, credit card statements showing up that they didn’t know about.  This is complicated grief.  When we grieve a person with unresolved issues in life.  Life is complicated.  And when life gets complicated and a loved one dies, it can leave a huge mess in that person’s wake and prolong their ability to heal.

Tonight I had a flashback to those moments.  I took my dog on a walk around our neighborhood and seemed to find myself in deep discussion with my husband.  I was telling him how I was making it on my own.  That I was pulling myself out of this. But how angry I am sometimes over what happened.  It’s the truth, irreverent as it may be.  But complicated grief is just that~ complicated.  And I know I am not alone on this from all the stories people share with me.  What happened next reminded me of why I write.  Why this all came about with Grief Anonymous. It’s the connection we still have, he and I.  I rounded my last leg of my walk and my son was playing basketball in our driveway with friends and they asked me to back the car out.  I was sad and distraught from my celestial conversation with my husband and I just went into the house and got the keys and came outside and turned on the ignition.  LOUDLY a song began to play and stopped me in my tracks.  Thank you, Jordon.  I know.  And now I remember you are still here to help.  I love you, too.




3 thoughts on “When We Are Angry

  1. I lost my only younger brother July 23, 2013. The healing is slow. I have strong spiritual beliefs not related to religion. I have hard time dealing with his loss. He had Pancreatic Cancer. He was filled with hope and had the most outstanding positive attitude, but – he could not win the battle. I struggle with with why bad things happen to good people. Randi L Sachar New York City


  2. I lost my father to suicide in May 2013. He was physically not well. He had a lot of complications from diabetes, including slowly becoming legally blind (after many procedures & surgeries), which forced him to quit driving & quit working as a pediatrician. He was initially denied disability, but did eventually get it, and my stepmom still worked, albeit for far less $$$, but finances were ok. But then Dad had nothing to do. He got into woodworking for a while until peripheral neuropathy snuck in &,he lost feeling in his fingers/toes & as a result, cut the tip of his finger off. That was it for woodworking. He’d had 2 bad knees hos whole life, both operated on several times over his life. They both needed replacement. He had one done around 2008 that was fine. The next one was a year later, in 2009-the worst of the 2 to start. Surgery was fine, but a month after he twisted it walking down a stair & pulled a ligament. They fixed it but there were also infection issues, so they put on a wound vac. Infection got worse & spread & they eventually had to remove the prosthetic knee & fuse the leg straight. Oh, he’s also overweight at 6’1″ & anywhere between 250-350 lbs. So now he has one straight leg, no feeling in legs or arms….his favorite thing was fishing-fly fishing-and tuing his own flies. Tying flies was over bc of the neuropathy. And getting in &,out of a boat, unsteady, overweight, and with one straight leg? C’mon. He went fishing the day before he did it, and came home early. I think he realized he could no longer do the last thing he loved. He also feared a heart attack or stroke that would leave him a vegetable, and didn’t trust that his health care proxy would do what he wanted. So with all that, he took a shotgun to his mouth. Called 911 first so my stepmom wouldn’t have to find the body. Point being, I was & am still pissed as hell. Nowadays it’s only sometimes, but it still surfaces. Even knowimg his story, and how hard life was for him, and the fact that he had a pretty good attitude through the whole thing, I can empathize with what he did. Completely. I don’t blame him. I’m mad at some of the details – I wish he’d left a note & not shot himself ON THE PHONE with 911, bc I think about how traumatizing it must have been for that operator. That sux. And was avoidable-hang up the phone first! But most of my anger is theirrational, emotional anger. It’s the “I wasn’t good enough for you to stick around for?” “Didn’t you love me? You wouldn’t have left me if you really loved me.” That kinda shit. Untrue to the max. Emotions. That’s all that is. And emotions aren’t rational. So I try to let myself feel whatever it is I’m feeling. I’ll often write-putting it on paper helps get it out of my head & heart. I’ve written to my deceased loved one, I’ve written to other people I may be angry with (the letters never get sent-it’s just therapeutic), my mom, myself, my journal -it doesn’t matter, just let it out. And then move on. And over time the bursts of anger become less. They don’t go away, but they lessen. You can breathe, and function between them, vs in the beginning when they’re all the time. Just for reference my boyfriend of 4 yrs, who developed schizophrenia during the relationship, took his life in March 2015. So I’m doing double grieving duty. I in no way claim to be an expert, just sharing what I’ve felt & gone through & ways I’ve dealt with things.


  3. When I was 26, I went to the doctor thinking I had gallstones. I wound up being told that part of my pancreas was swollen and it might be cancer. I have never been calm about medical things again since that day when a doctor took about 5 seconds to tell me I might die soon. The final diagnostic test they did almost killed me due to a severe allergic reaction to IV Demerol, which he used in combination to knock me out for the test. From then on, I understood people who avoided doctors and tests even when they knew they shouldn’t and something might be wrong. My husband almost died doing that exact thing in 2007. Thank God, I did not have pancreatic cancer, but I have had many other serious health scares over the years and I understand when fear is too overwhelming and you know that your life as you know it will never be the same when someone utters news of a catostrophic illness diagnosis. I still have issues going to doctors and having tests done. Anger is a part of grief, no doubt, but I’ve been in awful medical situations enough times to have sympathy for people who are fearing for their lives. Once those awful words are spoken, there is no going back.


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