Grief Has Many Emotions
With my mother gone and my father gone, I often felt abandoned.
I’d look around and notice other families. Families that seemed happy. But seeing them it felt like I was like rubbing salt in my open wound.
I’m sure there were other families who had lost loved ones, but my pain kept me focused on me, not on them. Besides, feelings rarely care about what’s true.
I can’t hear someone else’s pain while mine shouts.
Anger coats my sadness. I have a hardness forming around my heart. Anger I’ll have to work through. And even God was on my list.
How Dare You, God
I stood before an empty sky
and shook my fist clenched tight.
I opened up my very soul,
and screamed with all my might,
“How dare you, God!
How dare you take everything of mine?
while people all around me
seem happy most the time.
I’ve watched you take my loved ones
from in my family,
and I can’t take it anymore,
so get away from me!
With silence all around me,
I wait for Him to leave,
like others who have disappeared
when I would start to grieve.
I feel His arms encircle me,
and hear Him gently say,
“I know that you’re upset with me,
but I am here to stay.
There I was pushing God out, just like our father who told us after he hit us,
“Get away from me.”
It has taken time, but eventually I am learning God can handle our anger. He really can. But first, I needed to give myself permission to work through this anger. I used to just clam up, hoping it would go away.
Working on my anger
In the past, when I didn’t get my way, I felt unheard. Sometimes I’d shut down. My anger would start me, but it was my stubbornness that kept me there.
At those times, my husband tried to get me to talk, but he wasn’t getting in. No one would.
“Look at those clouds,” he’d say when we’d be on a drive. I’d look up at the sky. I’d try. I knew what he was trying to do. Part of me appreciated his efforts—a small part of me that wanted to talk—but still, I kept silent. Like I was locked away.
I’m locked within this mind of mine,
and cannot find the key,
Until I see the prison guard
and realize it’s me.
One day, when I was in this angry state, I forced myself to talk. I felt myself fighting it. Just keep quiet. They don’t care. No one cares. I ignored what I told myself and made myself talk.
I could hear a chain breaking. It was a heavy one.
Now when I’m angry, I use words. The temptation to clamp shut is there, but I try not to give in. And if I’m not ready to let the words out of my mouth, I at least say, “I’m angry now, but I want to talk about this later.”
Another emotion we experience is sadness. We’re sad because we feel that no one knows how we feel. After all, we’ve had so much happen in our lives. We feel sorry for ourselves.
Today I wear pity like a comfortable sweater
with sleeves that don’t fit.
It’s better than nothing
against the cold apathy of others;
at least I’m covered.
Sure, I’d like to be wrapped in warmth
as I imagine love.
But love is elusive and out of reach.
So I settle down in my favorite chair
with my sweater on and no one there.
When I was a little girl I don’t remember soft touch from my mom—unless I had a temperature. They she’d gently touch my forehead. As a young child I confused fevers with headaches.
I would run to her saying, “Mom, I think I have a headache; feel my head.”
I used to believe that if I didn’t think about the loved ones I’ve lost, it means I didn’t really love them much.
I heard a story about a man who lost his son in a fire. When the father recovered his son’s bones, he carefully put them in a box. He carried that box with him everywhere he went. That box of bones defined him.
Some thirty years later, there was a knock at his door. Standing there was a young man, “I am your son.”
The older man listened as this young man explained how he had been taken years ago, and how a fire had been set to cover up the kidnapping. The father listened to every word. Then he closed the door on his son.
His son’s death was the father’s reality. To him it was bigger than life. Perhaps I’ve also been carrying a box of bones.
Box of Bones
My arms are weary carrying
this box of bones around.
And yet, somehow I know
I cannot put it down.
You see, it has defined me
to everyone I see.
And if I’m seen without the box,
no one will know its me.
Yes, within grief are many emotions, not just sadness.
This is excerpted from Broken: A story of abuse, survival and hope.
Watch the Trailer for Broken.
Read more from Anne on Open to Hope: Wishing Doesn’t Change Things – Open to Hope