I came across the above words written by C.S. Lewis a few weeks ago and it hit me. Hard.
As many know, there are five common stages of grief.
These are just the common stages. They don’t necessarily hit in this order and the stages can be repeated.
I have been extremely intentional in my healing process. I have a few select people I allow in my grief moments and days. This healing journey is beautiful and exhausting. I’m learning that it may never be over. And that’s okay. The WORST thing you can tell a grieving soul is “get over it”, “move on”. Move on to what? Pretend your life hasn’t tasted tragedy? Pretend your emotional war wounds don’t exist and burst with pain every once in a while? Pretend your Love for the lost one doesn’t still exist? No. Moving forward is the correct notion. Move forward with the aching pain. Move forward with the Love you still carry. Move forward with your new scars and appreciation for Life and Love. Move forward in the most-healthy way you know how to do.
After years of pursuing healing, the one stage of grief I seem to get stuck in is, Anger. I’ve heard so many times throughout the last two years, “you’ve handled yourself with such grace”, “The Lord is so proud of you”, “Cody is so proud of you”. But no one sees my heart. No one knows the thoughts in my mind. No one can see my midnight hours—struggling on the battle-field of my own mind while getting lost in the darkness of suffocating anger.
“I sat with my anger long enough, until she told me her real name was grief.” C.S. Lewis
These words stroked a nerve.
I’ve known Anger is a main stage in grief. I’ve followed the stages. I completed the stages thoroughly, or at least in my mind I did. But I keep revisiting Anger. I have experienced intense Anger at Cody since he’s passed. Anger at him for fishing that night. Anger at him for traveling so much for work when we only had a few short years together. Anger at him for not being here with me. Anger at him for not being here to watch Abby grow into a beautiful little girl. Anger at him for unresolved things in our marriage. Anger at him for unfulfilled promises.
But if I’m honest the one I’m most angry with is, myself. I am stricken with gut-wrenching guilt about that day that changed everything. I wasn’t soft. I wasn’t nice. I wasn’t a loving wife. I was angry that day and I never even told him why. I was exhausted and felt the weight of grief before the tragedy even happened. I’m angry at myself for being mad at him when he didn’t come home that night. I’m angry for not looking harder. I’m angry at myself for not calling 911 sooner. I’m angry at myself for not having the voice I needed in certain seasons of our marriage.
I have cried in Anger toward God. I have yelled and screamed toward heaven as my fists hit the floor. I have strained my voice from screaming. The screams end in a pool of hot tears.
God knows each tear.
Psalm 56:8 tells us, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”
My tears are not lost. Your tears are not lost.
I can’t wrap my mind around this fact. The Lord has a bottle of all the tears I’ve ever cried? He knows each tear that has ever fallen down my face? And your face? What Love and intimacy from our, Savior?
This vicious, yet breathtakingly beautiful grief journey reminds me of a racecar on a track. Going around and around. Fast. Breaking for an oil change and tire change. Then off again at full speed. People cheering on the outside, waving their hands in approval. But they can’t see inside of the car. They can’t see the sweat dripping off the racer’s brow. They can’t feel his heart beating with fear and excitement. They don’t see what’s happening behind the wheel. They only see the outside. I only see what you choose to show on the outside. You only see what I choose to show on the outside. We won’t always see one another’s brokenness. We won’t always see one another’s fears and sadness. People have told me that I seemed to not have even skipped a beat in life after my husband passed away. That is far from the truth. The joy of the Lord is real. The peace of the Lord is real. Without those two gifts I would have gladly chose a life marinating in self-pity, darkness, and depression. Because that’s the easy thing to do. Choosing anger is the easy thing to do.
I have broken my anger down. I have asked for a revelation of the root of my anger… anger that extends past this particular trauma. The root has been fear or sadness. My fears and sadness manifest into anger. Of course that makes sense to me. I don’t want to feel vulnerable in facing fears and admitting an ongoing season of sadness, so I become angry. Anger itself is not bad. Anger is a God-given emotion that when expressed in a healthy manner during a justified season is okay. Like Ecclesiastes teaches us, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-14.
Undealt with anger is what’s dangerous. I have been treading on this danger line. The unresolved anger in previous tragedies and my marriage bleeds into my current season and relationships. I have felt my emotions snap at the littlest discomfort and unmet expectations. Maybe you can relate? If so, we need to keep in mind it’s not fair for the people in our lives who care about us. It’s up to us to be intentional in our own healing and strive to seek the Lord through each stage of grief and emotions. We may not be able to control what happens around us, or even to us. We can’t control how other people view us or treat us. What we can control is our reactions. There is freedom in thinking before we act and speak. There is freedom when we bring our hurts and disappointments to the throne of God rather than at the feet of a friend who may innocently encourage or justify the hurt, anger or gossip.
Once again, The Lord continues to use these unwanted emotions in this desperate season from a turned up-side down life and somehow manifests it for His Glory. I’m thankful for this season of anger and raw moments of questioning the Lords plan over my life. It has brought me closer in my spiritual walk. It has again, re-directed my anger and negative perspective to aim higher and remember that no matter what happens He’s got my daughter and I covered with His feathers and tucked under His wings. (Psalm 91:4)
Through the moments of anger and fleshly confusion I will mentally reside on the words of Isaiah 26:3, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”
I Trust my God, I Trust my God, I Trust my God.
2 thoughts on ““I Sat with My Anger Long Enough, Until She Told Me Her Real Name Was Grief””
My heart so hurts for the pain that you have had to experience. I have sometimes seen your smile not reach your eyes and I have prayed for you. Thank you so much for sharing the reality of grief and the reality of life. There’s never just one emotion. Love you
Great title – it’s especially powerful. I really enjoyed this post. For a long time I didn’t think I had any anger – I thought I only had sadness. Turns out, I had a ton of unresolved anger that was preventing me from moving forward in life. I can’t say I’ve dealt with it all, but the realization was important, and has given me an awareness that I needed. Thanks for sharing!