“I hate you.” Whether directed at God, Satan, or a human being, that statement is poignant but legitimate. The stage of grief that comes next is usually the most difficult stage for the loved ones surrounding the grief-stricken victim. It hurts everyone, it’s awkward, its maddening.
Anger is real. And it is so often thrown aside as an inappropriate expression of emotion. But it needs to be felt in order to heal. Which seems silly, but can make sense with a little explanation.
Take Pixar’s 2015 film Inside Out. In this we are shown that every emotion must be acknowledged and felt in order for the other emotions to thrive, all in their appropriate manners during the appropriate times. If you have just experienced a life-altering change, even if it seems like the tiniest change to others on the outside, you have to be allowed to feel the burning fiery pain and can cry in anger.
And that can add to the frustration you’re already feeling. You may not want to be angry, you may feel you don’t have any right, or that it’s not healthy. Others may shame your feelings, and “gently” push you to other emotions.
Skipping a step in the grieving process helps no one, because it leads to a path that never truly ends but rather winds through every moment in life, waiting to creep up again at any triggered opportunity. You don’t reach closure, and you never heal.
David, highly praised, a famous role model for young Sabbath school munchkins, what did he do? Let me tell ya, he felt angry. Often. Check out the Psalms. Even these biblical writers, inspired by God Himself show that anger is okay, if you can then turn your face to God and search for His strength.
My friend lost her cat, a stray who had entered her life at just the right moment, and had been there for her in her toughest moments. She was hurting, and she was angry. She was angry that death exists, angry that Adam and Eve set us on this terrible path, angry that God allows so much hurt, and angry that no one seemed to understand. I let her vent. I didn’t say anything or give any advice, because I know from experience a listening ear is invaluable. She needed to know I wasn’t going to discourage her feelings or make her move on, or force her to see any silver lining she didn’t want to see in the moment.
We all need our community to be there even through those tough times. They may have to grit their teeth and dig in their heels to keep from saying all their sage advice, but if you’ve got strong people in life who can handle the grief alongside you, they’ll listen. And slowly but surely, as you talk through your maddening anger, as you let your face heat to lava, and you scream into a pillow, an amazing thing happens: You start to heal. The anger cools ever so slightly. You take the next step in faith.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t be angry. Don’t feel ashamed or like your emotions aren’t valid. Face this step with the courage of a mighty lion.
Let yourself feel.