It’s been a year, nine months, one week and two days since my husband took his life and I’m only now just starting to feeling angry. Even typing that, makes me ill. I’m very much NOT ok with feeling angry.
When he first died, I had a fleeting moment of thinking ‘how could he have made this decision for us, without consulting me!?’ and then within a split second it was gone – replaced with ‘well he was sick. This wasn’t my husband, this was his disease. It robbed him of his logic, his understanding of consequences and his ability to make rational decisions. It also robbed him of his ability to ask for help. In that moment, he believed there was no other way.’
Any hint of anger was replaced with sadness for how scared and lost he must have felt. That just broke my heart and overshadowed everything else. I didn’t want to yell at him, I wanted to hold him, comfort him, sooth him.
I’m not a ‘yelling’ kind of person, never have been. As a child, I was much more included to sulk rather than throw tantrums. As an adult, I’m logical and sensitive, I want to find solutions and compromise rather than get lost in rage or lash out.
My husband and I weren’t fighters. We didn’t always agree, but we always communicated from a place of kindness – reluctant to hurt each other and always wanting to work towards a mutually-agreeable solution. We never used harsh words or said things out of spite, which is why I’m totally freaking out at the harsh words that have been coming to mind now, when I think about his death.
I have been putting off writing about this. I can barely speak about it to my closest friends. The words choke as they come out, I’m petrified of acknowledging this emotion.
I don’t want anyone to get confused and think that I’m blaming my husband for his death. I’ve been a fierce and vocal campaigner of showing support to those suffering mental illness, and working to remove the stigma and blame around suicide. I’m worried that by expressing anger in a public way, it may be misinterpreted. It is a very private, very intimate and very personal emotion and it’s scary to be vulnerable. It’s also a temporary emotion, but something that I need to acknowledge and work through, in order to prevent it from settling in my stomach and making me unwell.
I described it to my grief counsellor this week as though there is a child inside me wanting to throw the mother of all tantrums. She wants to rage and scream and kick and break things. She is so hurt and angry, she feels deceived and betrayed. But, there’s also the rational, loving adult who keeps silencing the child with soothing words such as ‘but it wasn’t him, he adored you – he would never consciously hurt you’. As soon as the child starts to find her voice it is quickly shut down. But my rationality just needs to shut up for a moment so the anger can be heard and released before it suffocates me.
I’m scared that my anger might hurt people, like those who love Dan and may not be ready for this emotion (which was me, up until now).
I’m scared that I may be encouraging others to feel angry at him. The thought of that pains me greatly, which is very confusing and complicated. Even in my own anger, I want to protect him from any wrath.
And I’m scared that by acknowledging this in any way, including writing about it here, people will try to stifle or dissolve my anger by rationalising the situation. Making it even harder for me to process it as a valid and important part of the grief journey.
I know that while, right now, I may be very mad about his death, I still love my husband. The anger doesn’t change that. I will continue to love him long after I’ve released this pain and I know that, where ever he may be, he will understand why I feel like this and forgive me. He is probably actually wondering why it’s taken me thing long in the first place.
And again I’m reminded about the personal growth that grief leads us to. I have learnt so much about myself since his death. I’ve been faced with thoughts, emotions and ideas that I probably would never have had to consider if he were still here. Learning to be comfortable with my anger is just the latest on this long list. I know I will get through this one too, because my track record so far is pretty impressive.