I have written about it in the past, but mostly as it relates to other areas of how I needed to lean into the sorrow to find my way through the day, and into the night, to ready for another day. Also in the request was how children who lose a loved one deal with anger in living in loss.
How and what we did with the anger is another story. I, at times, handled it well At other times, I wish I had a do over. Matt followed my lead. We were so connected and he fed off my state of being whether it was joy, sorrow, anger or any other condition. I had to address my anger, find a way to work through it and come to peace as much for Matt as it was needed for me.
In my experience, stagnant anger is toxic, but anger that is kept in fluidity finds its way to healing. I needed to find a way to appropriately deal with all the anger within me. I needed to follow its roots to its source and let source find expression.
What was the source of my anger? Was it because Lydia was given a transfusion with HIV that she didn’t even need? Was it because the first elementary school refused to let Matt enter? Was it because several churches we approached asked us not to bring Matt to their Sunday Schools because he was HIV+? Was it because Bryan suffered so much in the 8 months of his life? That Lydia was dying before my eyes and I was helpless to do anything? Was it because Matt had to watch his mother die and then go through three more years living with his own ultimate death? Or was it because I was left alone? Breathing, left just barely breathing and unable to stop breathing.
Yes. All of the above…and more.
Yet, it was the day in day out undercurrent of anger that I needed to address. I needed to find a way to live the moment in peace and I couldn’t do that until I embraced my anger. Just as there was no way around my sorrow there was no way around my anger. The only way I was to find peace was go through every emotional state sorrow brings, including the anger.
I feared anger. What I feared was my anger would overwhelm me, consume me, and damage the world around me, especially Matt. I came to realize it was the stagnation of anger that frightened me most.
Nothing in this world lives in separation. There is no part of me that is not a part of all of me. I had to feel what I felt, hurt what I hurt. I had to get angry, get sad, get scared, get…real.
Matt was three when his Bryan died. His anger waited in the wings. We had him in therapy by the age four and he went to this wonderful therapist up until the weeks before his death. His four years of experience had not taught him all the spectrum of sorrow that loss entails. At age seven, we told him about his HIV, about his mother’s HIV and how his little brother actually died.
We knew Lydia was going to die before him. We knew we had a year or so and we needed to prepare him. At age seven, Matt knew anger and had every reason in the world to be angry. It was there Matt’s anger needed expression.
What Lydia and I did, and I continued to do after her death, was to give Matt room to feel whatever he needed to feel. We gave him unconditional space with safe parameters. He knew he could express anything in a safe environment where love borders the gamut of emotions. We gave him many outlets to express his anger, but we gave him direction and support to express it in a healthy manner.
There was so much that child had to endure. I knew Matt’s endurance was intricately interwoven with mine. So, I worked very hard in working with my anger. I, too, needed unconditional space with safe parameters. Exercise was a major outlet. Writing helped. Going to my own therapist at the time was essential. I took every road possible to find a way to find a way to walk in peace so Matt and I could walk our road in peace.
If I was to make peace, I needed to make peace with my anger. I pushed nothing away. I held on to nothing. I let my anger rise. I touched it with unconditional tenderness. And I let it take me in healing to healing.
I did not want Matt to carry stagnant anger into death. I, too, did not want to live a stagnant life circling petrified anger. In order to live in fluidity, to experience moment’s movement and go deep into life we had to confront and embrace everything. One of the most challenging “everything” we had to face was anger.
My loss will unfold for the rest of my life, so will my healing. When anger arises, even today, I open to its presence and take what is given to what it can give. I lean into everything and find everything takes me in love to love, including my anger.