I will be doing a series of blogs about some of the emotions that I experienced and that many of the grieving dads that I have spoken with have also experienced.  I thought I would begin with the emotions/feelings that begin with the letter “A”.

Anger:  The word alone provides many thoughts and images.  But for many of the dads, anger is the one emotion society allows for men.  It’s what men do, we get angry.  Unfortunately, for many grieving dads, they get stuck there and the anger begins to fester over time.  The following is a list of things that anger many of the grieving dads I have spoken to as part of this project:

  • They become angry at themselves for not being able to protect their child.
  • They become angry because the life they once knew is gone.
  • They become angry at God for allowing the loss to occur.
  • They become angry because the world keeps moving after their loss, like nothing happened.  “My child has died, how can the world keep moving?”
  • They’re angry at people who may have had a role in the death of their child.
  • They are angry because some people around them just want them to “get over it and get back to the old you'”.
  • They are angry because they lost control of themselves and their emotions.
  • They are angry at their employers for not understanding that their performance at work has been forever impacted and that they are not the same person as they were before.  It’s hard to care about things that just do not seem to matter. 
  • They are angry because they have lost hope and can’t seem get find it.

These are just a few things that have been shared with me over the last several months.  Is there anything you would like to add as far as “what makes you angry?”  Feel free to comment.

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  • Single Father

    One word of warning: be wary of venting your anger at family members after the death of a child. They are hurting as much as you are.

    When our teenage daughter died in an accident, I took care of all of the funeral arrangements, which in an accidental death includes talking to the coroner, the police, the funeral director, cemetery, tombstone maker, my wife’s priest, writing an obituary, probate court and neighbors, among others. My wife started exploding at me the day after our daughter died, and this continued every time I told her what one the people involved in the funeral had said; I was expecting some solace, and instead felt like the cross-bearer had been flogged. She also made nasty comments when I asked simple questions of people. I asked her mother if she had been able to get to sleep one morning, and my wife said, condescendingly, “Oh, now he’s asking if people were able to sleep last night.”

    I said nothing for two weeks, but assumed that my wife was furious at me, in part because I was in a weakened state, and in part because she was only blowing up at me. I asked her gently to stop after two weeks, she denied doing anything, and then I finally shot back at her, unfortunately.

    Our relationship deteriorated; I withdrew for protection, because in that way, I didn’t get yelled at. After a few months I asked to go to marriage counseling, and she refused. Three years later, we’re divorcing. I miss the wife I had before our daughter died, it will be lonely without having a wife, and I don’t like giving up half my stuff, but I really no longer want to be around her, unfortunately. I see her as an emotional stone, and as someone who is probably deeply ill, as she has now cut off her surviving children.

    The moral is to be careful how you express your anger. If you do, apologize profusely; don’t simply justify your comments, which will only make your loved ones angry (my wife had an explanation for everything – she blew up about the cost of the funeral because funerals cost too much, even though my father volunteered to pay the costs, she blew up when I spent an extra $50 on a funeral plot because they were poor when she was young, etc. – instead, she should have said, “I’m sorry – that must have really hurt – how did that make you feel?”).

    And, of course, get counseling immediately. Losing a child is the worst thing any parent can go through. We’d all trade places with our child, but it doesn’t work that way.

  • Robb,

    Your welcome for the forum. You can vent here anytime. You can also drop me an email or call if your having a bad day and need to talk to another grieving dad that “gets it”. Everything you mentioned above is completly normal response to what we have been through. You may not like it, but based on converations I have had with MANY of the grieving dads, it is a normal part of processing the trauma in which we have been through.

    I just got back (last night) from the National Gathering of the Bereaved Parents of the US where I was a workshop presenter for dads. Many of the dads I spoke to this weekend experience what you are feeling.

  • Robb

    Thanks for the reply! It’s really great to feel a little less alone. Today is the one year anniversary of our daughter’s fatal diagnosis… I feel like there should be some significance–some meaning–to the vast difference between the happy, ignorant man I was one year ago and the black hole of passionlessness that I am today, but when I try to reflect on it (or on anything for that matter) I just can’t put one thought in front of the other anymore.

    The anger I feel is not only unpredictable, but it contradicts itself, too! I’m both angry at the world for not realizing that I HAVEN’T moved on and never will be able to, AND angry at MYSELF for judging the world and for not having moved on. I’m both angry at the majority of my friends who avoid me or at least avoid ‘going deep’ with me AND angry at myself for being so needy (because I fully recognize that no one in their right mind would want to be around me…*I* don’t even want to be around me). I’m angry when people act like nothing has happened AND I’m angry when people treat me with “kid gloves” like I might break if they say anything that might in any way remind me of our daughter’s death.

    Thanks for the forum to vent a little.

  • Robb,

    It’s been just over 4 years since the death of my son Noah and although most days I feel like I have survived the very dark days of grief where I didn’t know if I would survive, I still have moments where I notice the anger will creep back in. I notice the my patience is short and my temper quick. I happens more when I feel pressure. I think its the fact thart our nervous system has been impacted so greatly. Almost like a Post Tramatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) response to what we have been through.

    You are not alone in your anger. Its very common for men to feel this emotion. Like I said above, it’s the one emotion that men have that is acceptable to society. Crying and beening depressed is no so acceptable. But I am on a mission to change that. I beleive all emotions need to be felt openly in order to heal from what we all have been through.

    Peace.

    Kelly

  • Robb

    So nice to know I’m not crazy and not alone. Those last two, especially, are ones I haven’t read about anywhere else but I feel them intensely.

    I also find myself just plain angry in general. Not angry at anyone or anything specific; I just have this well of anger inside me that comes bursting out at the most random things. I surprises me and even scares me sometimes, because it’s such a new experience…I was never an angry person before.