The Second Stage of Grief: Anger

close up picture of white rose

The first stage of grief is denial, followed swiftly by the second stage of grief – anger.

Mum’s death was so unfair, and I was so cross this was happening to her.

Why mum?

She was 64 and a beautiful soul. She had devoted most of her adult life to God, and spent it serving others.

I had always planned to move back home in my mid-thirties, to be close to mum. I wanted to meet her after work, go to Waterstones Cafe for a coffee, and talk through our days. I wanted to be around the corner, to drop in with my washing queries, and to watch Merlin together on her tiny little sofa. It wasn’t anything unreasonable or groundbreaking, it was all things we had done before.

But now, Cancer had stolen mum’s retirement, and our future together as a family. I was furious. Not in a “Hulk busting out of tank top and rampaging through the town” kind of fury (lol, worst superhero ever). Instead, my rage was more of a potent, bubbling and silent rage. A fire in my tummy, a grinding resentment.

Why had this happened? To mum, to us, to me.

This was complicated by my feelings of anger towards my father. A man who had been embroiled in an affair for at least the last 8 years, and did nothing to support mum or make her feel appreciated or loved during that time. How was it fair that she had now suffered unimaginable pain after years of mental abuse at the hands of my father?

Why mum?

These tortuous thoughts are entirely futile. Much like my father, these musings are predictably disappointing and don’t achieve anything. I can’t change their marriage, his purposeful disregard for mum or her wonderful soul. But, I can be a better person than him and live my life in memory of my mum.

So, what now?

Death before time is never fair – and I can only begin to imagine how many people have been a victim of cruel diseases in this way. Anger at the unfairness of cancer is all consuming, but the anger doesn’t get you anywhere. It just festers, and spirals. Anger is draining, and I quickly became tired of feeling resentful.

Losing mum had always been my greatest fear, but I had somehow lived through it and survived. So now I needed to find a way forward.

Therapy has been a huge part of this journey, and my “new” life.

During my session yesterday, we reflected on how I was feeling about mum and where I was in my “grief journey”.

Was I angry mum was gone? Did I think I think it was horribly unfair and cruel? Did I spend time thinking WHY mum, why cancer?

The answer to all of those questions is yes, of course. I have thought all of these things, and still do sometimes. But, I’ve also come to realise that these thoughts don’t get you anywhere.

Mum had died, and it was the worst experience of my life. I explained to my therapist that I saw I had 2 options – I could stay in my pit of despair, or try and work my way out of it. Fortunately, I had chosen the latter and hadn’t seen the bottom of that gloomy pit for a long while.

Whilst explaining this predicament, I realised how far I had come! I could calmly reflect on the awful and unfair loss of mum, and still look forward to what my future holds. I don’t know when this shift in my mindset happened, but I am so grateful I have managed to get this far.

I don’t think the unfairness of mum’s death ever truly goes away, but I have to find a way to live with my grief, and live my life. It’s what mum would have wanted, and I will honour her every day that I can.

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