Note: This post was originally shared on my “widowhood” blog, Frances 3.0: Still in Beta.
Sometimes I feel very angry and I can’t figure out where to place the blame. I know that my anger is part of my grief, but I don’t have a person or a thing to blame for my anger, nor do I have a recognizable focus for it.
In the first few hours after Paul’s death, I was very angry with the ambulance service. From the time I dialed 9-1-1 until emergency services arrived more than half an hour passed—with me performing CPR and knowing that I was losing my husband while I waited for help. It was just a few hours after he died that I got preliminary autopsy results and learned that even if help arrived in seconds, even if we’d have been in the middle of the ER, there was nothing that could have been done to save my Paul.
My anger and need to place blame soon shifted to his doctor. Shouldn’t she have known something was wrong? How could she have missed the fact that his heart was nearly double the size it should have been? It had only been six months since he got a clean bill of health—cholesterol and blood pressure were well within the normal range and EKG and stress test results were normal. A chest x-ray done around the same time as part of our adoption application showed his heart and lungs to be healthy and normal. (She didn’t miss anything—the enlarged heart was a recent development, within the last two months of Paul’s life, most likely.)
So with no medical professionals to blame, I started to look at myself and at Paul. Did we miss something? Should I have known something was wrong? Should Paul have known? Could we/should we have done something different? Did we do something that caused this in the first instant? The simple answer to all of those questions is no. There was no way for us to know anything was wrong. Paul was healthy and training for a marathon. There was no reason for us to even suspect anything was wrong. We didn’t know. I didn’t know. He didn’t know. So how can I be mad at one of us?
I’m not mad at God. I never was. I don’t believe that God “did this” to me or that I’m being punished. It wasn’t part of a greater plan, it’s just life. And part of life is death. How can I be mad at God for giving me seven-plus years with my amazing Paul? I feel blessed to have just met him in the first place.
Part of me wonders if I’m angry with Paul for leaving me; for taking away the future that we planned together. And then my rational mind tells me that I am silly: I can’t be mad at Paul when he didn’t want to leave; he didn’t want our future to end.
So where is this anger coming from? (Other than the repressed and ignored anger I have toward Paul as mentioned above.) And when it comes, who do I take it out on?
I find myself getting frustrated over the simplest things and I want to scream or throw something—or both. Of course, I don’t want to just scream. I want to scream AT someone. I want to be mad and angry at someone; anyone. I find myself getting angry with innocent “someones” only they don’t know it. I take the smallest thing and blow it out of proportion in my mind to the point where I’m seething about nothing—and I wish that innocent person was there for me to scream at. Of course, the whole while that I’m getting frustrated and angry, I know that my anger is uncalled for and I know that there is no reason for me to be upset with that person for that reason. But it allows me to focus some negative energy for a while. Then the person does something to redeem themselves, or I just snap out of my crabby mood, and all is forgiven. (With me fully realizing no one did anything wrong to start with.)
I’ve read a bit about “Primal Therapy” (sometimes known as scream therapy) and can see the sense in that physical release. I’ve read stories of people who’ve felt a certain amount of release/relief once they’ve let their anger out by screaming, and I must admit that it sounds comforting (oddly). But something stops me from being able to let out that scream. I don’t know if my hesitation is due to the way I was raised, or my “Sandra Dee” view of the world, but I can’t manage to just let out that anger and instead it just builds up.
I’ve taken up golf so that I can go to the driving range and swing away at some of the anger, but it’s not quite enough. I feel that I really need to release my anger, but my rational mind is too busy trying to explain away my emotions that I’m not allowing myself to just “let it out” and get mad. I don’t know what the fix is for that, or if there even is a fix for it. You could say that acknowledging the problem is half the fight, but it’s not the half of the fight that I want!
Our next purchase for our home gym was to be boxing gloves and a full-size punching bag to suspend from the ceiling. Maybe I should look into buying one now. It would certainly get some use!