I don’t particularly find solace in the stages of grief (or support that they’re accurate) but even if I did, I truly didn’t think I would experience anger. I didn’t relate when people said they were mad at God or life or themselves after they faced a tragedy. I guess it’s because I don’t blame my mom’s death on anyone or anything. Life is messy. But despite all this, anger did creep in somewhere. It’s the tricky kind that lurks below the surface and bubbles out with disguised roots – like lashing out at dirty dishes or overreacting to misspoken words from my husband.
One night, Adam and I were sitting on the beach drinking wine under the stars – it seemed a picture-perfect setting for peaceful thinking and conversation, but I was in another place. My teeth were gritted; Adam sat beside me and every nerve in my body was convinced he must have done something to upset me during the evening. Why else would I feel like yelling or throwing rocks? Giant waves broke fiercely against cliffs and a cold wind whipped across my face. It was a funny feeling to realize I was comforted by these ungentle acts of nature. I felt at peace because I was watching external expressions of my insides.
I am angry, I said to myself, surprised. It wasn’t Adam and it wasn’t anything I’d experienced that day. Deep in my heart I was mad because my mom died. I wanted to stay there with the wind and waves all night to watch them tell me how I was feeling.
It was a really important realization; many of my reactions make more sense now that I know this emotion is a valid force in my life. I feel okay about the anger because even if I don’t blame anyone that mom is gone, it still isn’t fair. It still hurts. I still don’t want to be without her. I have waves crashing inside of me that need to be felt. I do try to let the waves exit as tears instead of gritted teeth, and I try to hug Adam instead of throwing dishes at him (okay, I never threw dishes at him, because he’s amazing, but you know).
I think it’s important to understand that anger is as valid as sadness or joy. I look forward to letting it go one day, but for now, in the same way that I need to express these other emotions, sometimes I just need to throw rocks into the ocean and find solace in the crashing waves.