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From the Summer 2008 issue of For Those Who Give and Grieve.
As they say, better late than never. I procastinated answering this as it is the ugly reminder of the sheer anger and hate I felt for the first couple years after our daughter was tragically killed while innocently trying to board her school bus fifteen years ago at the age of 9.
Michelle was a fourth grader and well instructed and intelligent. The death that befell her that day was due to complete negligence of all those involved in what led to her being hit by a car, struck on her back unbeknownst to her.
I am so thankful Michelle never knew what hit her and was instantly taken to Heaven. Thankful we were home to be able to administer CPR, my husband ran outside immediately and started CPR so Michelle could become an organ and cornea donor..
The worst stage of my grief was experiencing the utter chaos and anger directed at the ones I loved who would take it, and screaming so often that I nearly lost my voice.
Yet at the same time it was God and my faith that shielded me from going off the deepest end of no return.
I became very invloved in a ministry for bereaved parents and focused on healing as I interacted with others going through the same pain.
My anger was at the school district, the bus depot, the bus drivers, the people who carelessly speed down our road.
When others who knew not our grief tried to suggest getting on with life or anything they certainly had no jurisdiction to understand, I would blow up at them, how DARE them tell me to get over it, take down my daughters pictures or pretend she was never mine!
I said time could never erase her touch, her smile, her soul, or her being my daughter!! And if i was blind, deaf and without touch I would STILL love my daughter were she alive in the flesh!!
My ministry helped and still helps though after fifteen years I can honestly say I have moved beyond those first excrutiating inital years of torture and torment to my aching heart!!
Reading tons of grief books, reading my Bible, continuing to attend my Bible Study and some few true friends as well as my dear family helped me, our two surviving children and my husband were my driving force to get back to living life and knowing this is what Michelle would want for us all and to be happy..
In the end of the anger stage and as I look back now fifteen years later, I am very changed and have experienced the sorrow of a lifetime that only very few truly must experience. Since afterall, children are our future, and we never think of them as dying before us, it is ingrained in society that when we have children we continue the circle of life..
It has altered me and been a very painful journey but all the WHYS I contantly asked have become, why nots, and even if we knew would the pain be any less to take?
I do not care what others have to comment when they don't understand this issue.
I have learned to correspond with people who DO understand and that is what helps me.
I am also comforted in knowing our daughter saved others lives with her organs and gave the gifts of sight to two young men, she lives on in the flesh too!
Lastly I emphasize I have barely touched the surface of this topic or the dealings of griefs stages as it is a most complex topic and yet as natural as life itself, we are born and we all die..
The anger is mostly gone now and certainly love will always prevail as will the sweet memories our daughter left us, and it always helps to remember her saying that we would never have to say good-bye...
Having a sweet and loving daughter who always gave in all she did and loved life itself so much for life itself and having a faith in eternal life is my saving grace. I am back to feeling joy and happiness now and over the years have slowly come back full swing to enjoy life like I NEVER thought I ever could again. My children, grandchildren, husband and family mean so much to me and I can say I am truly happy again! What a miracle! Thank you God.
Posted by: CindyJo Greever
When our son was hit by a vehicle walking home from work there was many what ifs that turned into anger. Anger to the city because the road he was hit on did not have sidewalks or adequate lighting. Neighbors have gone to the city council meeting and asked how many of our children have to die before you will do something about the sidewalk and street light situation?
The city has since made sidewalks and street lights. This has made driving down the street not be a constant reminder of where our son was hit. The road looks entirely different. Lives have been protected since the road is safer.
The man who hit our son was understandably upset with himself as to Why I did not see him? He has since mentioned to us that he had to realize that it truely was an accident. Our son was walking on the wrong side of the road, with no sidewalks and lights making it difficult for him to be seen. We as a family hold no ill feelings for the driver of the car. He has stated this has helped him to heal. To harbor anger to him because of our son's death would have made us grow to hate him. I have met individuals that are extremely angry to the individual who caused their family members death. Years later they can not forgive them for the accident.
I had anger with myself as usually I would drive the half mile and pick him up from the bus stop because of the cold weather. This particular evening I went to a club meeting and did not pick him up. The following December I could not go to that meeting. I have now Now I realize that it is important to not dwell on the what ifs and move on with life.
Relish in the fact that our sons gift of life has helped many others. This has really helped our family.
Posted by: Sheila Baxter
I think we all experience anger due to loss. Anger isn't always productive so we are lead to vent in private. Venting anger is critical. But anger is also, for me, a huge motivator. It is powerful and when channeled into positive emotion and action can accomplish great things. Like gritting your teeth when lifting a heavy stone...the power of "positive anger" can move mountains.
Posted by: Shelly J Sinn
My son, Michael, died in a single car accident on December 13, 2002. He was only 16. I was in shock for many months and often found myself shouting in rage while alone. For the first few months afterwards I didn't go back to work but found that painting helped me. I painted anything I could get my hands on.(even walls but mostly canvas) The anger always seemed to come when I was alone and screaming was the only way to defuse it, afterwards I would cry uncontrolably for 4-5 minutes then it would be over and I would be exhausted. However, to make good from our loss, we started a scholarship in his name to help others. That allowed me to channel my energy towards good things. We still have a difficult time going to church because it was the last place we said our good-byes to our son. We worship at home instead. My husband and I have since moved to another state and started new jobs but the anger still comes. It comes for both of us in different ways. We have found that we cannot help each other with our grief and anger but are there to listen when the other is in need. The anger is more infrequent now but it still rears it's ugly head now and then. We don't celebrate Christmas or other holidays anymore. We engage in a physical activity that takes all our energy to execute and doesn't allow us to think of anything else but the execution. I have since helped other mothers who have lost a child. We don't ever forget but learn how to deal with the pain of our loss. Having others who have experienced this type of loss to talk to helps immensely also.
Someone also mentioned Sylvia Brown's books. I read all of hers and her analogy of the afterlife was helpful to me but not my husband. It's been almost 6 years now and people think I should be past the grief part. Our new community didn't know our son so they wouldn't know the loss the community had or the lives he touched while here. I miss him everyday and still cry when I think about him. Memories are pleasant ones now, but bittersweet.
Posted by: Hope Casseri
From the beginning of the sudden loss of my wife and two young children's mother, many people were either self-serving, inaccessible, or just downright turned their back on us. Despite being abandoned by 90% of the world, I make a choice everyday: to love. Real love, not self interested love, but the love of this physical world. We have the physical world; now is the time to love not to be saved for an obscure afterlife. Even the great religions talk of loving now. I make that choice. Love expressed outward in a listening ear, supportive hug, and caring smile doesn't eliminate the pain or anger: it yields positve ripples in a pool of crashing waves.
Posted by: Christian D'Amico
For myself, my anger was directed at GOD and revolved around the question, Why? Why did you take my son?
The car driver was not at fault, it was an accident.
Should I meet HIM after I die I plan to ask HIM, Why? I may not understand the answer, but there better be one.
Is the anger still here, yes.
Posted by: Stephen R. Gardner
The best way I know to express your anger is just to tell it like it is! I am appalled at the responses I have gotten from a distance from the person who received my son's liver. He is not appreciative for the gift and is the most ungrateful human being I have ever come in contact with. He refuses to acknowlege the gift as well as the family who gave it. This only can increase the anger a family has as well as the thoughts to NOT donate. So I would like to shout to the world, what an ignorant, stupid, inconsiderate and ungrateful buffooon this loser is. He did not deserve the gift that my son and our family gave! Tell it like it is so you can move on and live what life you have left to live!
Posted by: Pat Kupfer (Jeremy D. Youngman's Mom)
I was angry when my son Damian took his life. I have since thank God for the twenty six years He loaned him to me. We all have accept the fact that our children are not belonging to us. We do the best we can to love them and watch them grow and cherish each moment they are here. I live with his memories my only regrets is that I did not do too many fun things with him as I thought there would always be tomorrow His tomorrow was cut short but he left footprints everywhere he went.Thank God his donation is allowing sixty people to enjoy their lives.
I am drawn much closer to my God, I could not have made it without Him. He is my strength when I am feeling down I turn to Him in prayer and I do not ask why me God but ask why not me.
Posted by: Enid Davis
"anger yes I know it so well!" When I lost my 17 yr. old son in sept. of 07, well I thought I'd be angry forever-Then something amazing happened as I was reading a book on grief " it stated "Seek God and he will come!" All I had to do was search and ask him to find me, I know it sounds crazy but at the most difficult times in my life I do look to him and pray alot, it does help, I also get thru the day by looking at my three other beautiful children and knowing what a blessing and how their brother corey "LIVE'S" thru them and the people who recieved my son's organs each and every day. GOD BLESS-STAY STRONG and as Corey would say everyday "A.S.A.P" ALWAY'S SAY A PRAYER!"
Posted by: JOSETTE SUAZO
I didn't allow anger to be much of my response to the sudden accidental death of my 23 year-old son, Jeremy, but naturally it has surfaced once in a while. Most often when I've been driving alone, usually if a particular song came on the radio, one that evoked powerful emotion. (And anger certainly is that!) How did I handle it? By screaming and beating my steering wheel, screaming like a wild thing. With the results being a great deal of hoarseness by the end of my ride....
Jeremy's next-in-line brother has demonstrated a few episodes of explosive anger, usually in times of frustration, most recently when he learned that Jeremy's headstone had been tampered with. Those reactions break my heart. But afterwards, he comes down and we draw closer to each other and to his younger brother and we continue sticking together through this journey of ours....
Posted by: Gabrielle Pierce
I was definetly angry when my 16 yr old nephew Damien Novoa passed away I could not understand how God could do this how could he take him away at such a young age and not knowing why this had to happen to him made me more mad,But with the help of a couple of Sylvia Browne's books "A JOURNAL OF LOVE AND HEALING" AND "BLESSINGS FROM THE OTHER SIDE" these two books helped me to realize that that my nephew was actually the lucky one he is his in a place where there is no pain & no hate just the overwhelming feeling of love & peacefullness. I realized he was able to finish his job here on earth sooner then most us, he saved two lives and how could I be mad at any one for that !
Posted by: valerie novoa
Each day I live my life trying to prevent the anger emotion from raising its ugly head. For over 25 years I have been a christian and I automatically have JOY in my heart. I have been successful in carrying this with me throughout the day. When I feel the beginning of anger coming I do two things : (1) remind myself that because I am a christian people are watching me to see if I make a mistake and (2) I pray.
Posted by: Gary Hildebrand
When My Son Pass-Away i did Not Know Why I Was So Mad why Did This Happen To A Young man Just starting His life. why Did God Take Him From me At such An young Age. Yes I was Mad As Hell But As the Years Go by i Still Fill The Pain. You Just Take One Day At A Time. And i Still have My good Day,s And Bad.You Never Forget You Learn To live With It. It Hard Talk To God And Always talk To Your Loved One. Remember All The Good Thing,s They Brought To your life. To Day Is My son B-day He Pass in 1998 You never for Get But As time go,s By You Learn To live With It. I Wish I Could Takk To The Man that sent Me The Thanh You Letter for His Organ That had Two kids And.The Young Girl that got Hes Eyes.I hope they Are Well And He Could help them. He was a Giver.The Letter From The People That Get the Organ need To Make sure that Thay Keep in tuch It Made me feel So good That he Cood help so mean people. And The Letter were a god Sent to Me.i hope All Is Well With Them.Brenda
Posted by: brenda modena
My name is Ron Biskup. I am the father of Lisa Biskup who was a heart recepient back in 1990 at age 23. We lived all those 23 years in fear of our daughters life. Finally at age 23 Lisa needed a new heart to survive and in 10 days Lisa did have a new heart. Someone thought enough about giving that Lisa was given a new Life. We cherished every monent Lisa had up until the time that Lisa passed away on May 13,2006. I've been active in the Gift of Life and I am a current member in the Michigan Donor Family Council Foundation organization. I have sponsored and worked two memorial benefit dances in my daughters honor for the benefit of the Michigan Donor Family Council with pride and honor. I will contine to do so. I will be glad and willing to offer more about my involvement in Gift of Life upon your request. Feel free to call on me,I will openly talk and speak about my daughter and the Gift of Life in any form..
Posted by: ronbiskup
When I got to the point in my grief that I was angry I couldn't figure out why, I would take it out on everyone around me. When I sat and talked to another donor mom and realized I was angry with my son, I thought how can I be angry with him. I was angry he sat on the trunk of the car that threw him to the ground, I was angry he went to the friends house I WAS ANGRY HE LEFT ME BEHIND. I realized it was ok to be angry and I shouldn't feel guilty about it After a while I realized there was nothing I could do to chage what happened. I had to forgive him and get past the anger. I started working with our OPO. I decided I had all of this energy that I was focusing on the anger, saddness, depression you name it I had it. I used that energy instead to volunteer, do public speaking,going to the high schools to talk to kids about organ and tissue donation as well as my "mom' speach at the end. But I also took the anger and along with another mom started a support group for "Donor Families". It has been 11 years and the things I have done in those 11 years I know Robby would be proud of me. I have worked with countless families and we talk about the anger. And I tell them it is alright to feel the anger we all have it for different reasons, but it can't take you over and you can't let it eat you up. There are ways of dealing with it, there are sometimes things that you can do to help the next family or to prevent others going through what you are going through. That is why the support group for donor families is so important, you have someone to share with and someone that knows exactly how you feel. We are available to each other when things get rough or bad days come along. I think anger is one of the steps you actually have to go through in the grief process whether you are angry with your loved one or yourself but you have to realizse when it is effecting your whole life you need to share with someone.
Posted by: Michelle Lester
I was very angry at my husband for leaving me. He died when he trimmed branches on a tree in our yard and fell to his death. But when my grandson asked me why I was so angry with Grandpa, it made me stop and made me understand why. Being with my family and frieds helped. They let me talk and now I just plain miss him.
Posted by: Frances Goldbach
When I am really angry, the most helpful thing I can do is to exercise very strenuously - not an exercise club or class type of activity, but very hard Roller-Blading, canoeing, biking, XC skiing, or something that burns up a lot of calories and lets me focus on just breathing. Researchers have said that this promotes endorphins and other beneficial elements for the brain, and help to restore a general sense of well-being. When I am angry or really upset over the loss of a child (we have lost four), an injustice toward someone I love, or the innocent misfortune of someone very close to me, really pushing my body helps me to settle down and prepare to deal emotionally with the intense situation. Then I am ready to cry, pray, or do whatever else needs to be done. (By the way, I am 64 and live in Alaska where some people prefer to sit out the winter indoors!)
Posted by: Bev Kirk
When my son was killed on his motorcycle by a negligent driver my first response was anger. I was angry at God, I was angry at the driver. Then I was just angry at everything. I know now the anger was to shield me from from the unbearable pain I was soon to feel. When we lose a loved one from sudden death the anger is a good thing. It helps us to get through the first few days of the shock of what happened. After the funeral and all that goes with it and things quiet down, that is when the pain sets in. At that time I feel we are more able to deal with the pain. There are so many phases we go through when a loved one dies anger usually is the first. It is normal and you should let yourself feel all of the phases. Don't try to ingore them that is not a good thing to do, just let them happen. It has been four years since my son died and there are still days that for no special reason I will suddenly feel angry. I let the feeling pass through me and then I am alright again. It is OK, God understands.
Posted by: Anna Parham
Today was the second anniversary of my husband's death. He was a perfectly healthy man who went out for a jog ( he was in the NYC marathon) and he was killed by a young woman driver. What a shock! I am very angry at this woman who lives nearby, and I drive by her house, but have never seen her. My brother in law and I, to get closure, might ring her bell one day and get her side of the story. I hate her, but I know that hatred is not a healthy emotion. Today on the second anniversary of his death I feel betrayed. I called my sister in law last year and asked her: Why did he leave me? I felt abandoned. Nevertheless, I have tried to honor his memory. I have set up an annual memorial lecture in his honor. The second lecture was last week. I was very happy to have him remembered, and he came alive to me that day. I donated four of his organs an he saved four lives. My brother in law met the woman who received his heart. She was very appreciative, of course, as they all were. I am happy he lives on through these four people. I spoke on a panel promoting organ donation and marched in a parade holding up a poster with his picture. Underneath the picture it said SAVED FOUR LIVES. That day marching in the parade, he came alive again. I miss you BRUCE, but know that you won't be coming back. I'm lonely and must make a concerted effort to go on with my life. Know Bruce that I will never forget you and will love you forever.
Posted by: Susan
It is difficult to think of something positive that can result from the negative emotion of anger. It is all consuming. The good part is that it shields you from the pain of your grief. It puts your grief on the back burner because your anger is surrounnding you. In retrospect, I guess that this period of anger helps you get through the pain. I dont know if there are constructive ways to deal with the anger. However, the anger eventually does fade, turns to sadness, and eventually the sun comes out again. If after losing by 22 year old daughter I can once again see the joy in life, Im hoping that others in similar circumstances can also feel some joy.
Posted by: Betty Young
Wow....Anger...yes powerful and can be all consuming--if I allow my mind to go there. Yes, I do often....my mind does without supervision. Unfortunately I do NOT have a support group or family to share my grief or angerg--heck I didn't have time to grieve as my husband died suddenly of a brain aneursym and without a will...after a month long fight with the hospital to allow my husband to die with dignity...I went into Estate Administration mode and had a lawsuit thrown on me personally and as executor of the Estate because my husband died intestat and the deed on our house was bad (who knew) so I was being kicked to the curb and forced to sell my home (in a bad housing market) I shared with my husband for 10 years that we built together. Angry, you bet, but I tried to stay in with a mantra of positive thoughts breathing IN to keep me positive because I truly believe in Karma.....I had three of my husband's former and estranged family members working against me for what amounted to a money grab.....maddening, angry YUP. Angry at my husband for not protecting me, YUP but as fast as I had the negative angry thought I replaced with a happy thought of our life together and kept my head down and charged forward knowing he would not have wished this on me. Other peoples' anger I tell myself is just their fear that death is something that can visit their doorstep just as it did mine (it is truly the great equalizer) and as unexpected as it did mine. No warning, no goodbye, just a life ending--suddenly. I'm not quite a butterfly yet...I'm only half way out of my shell....will I be a butterfly someday? Sometimes I like to think so but sometimes my heart hurts so bad I question myself.
Peace to each and every person walking my path--I know your pain, I feel your loss, I grieve with you and I too express your anger when it is hard for me to get to a positive place. Bless.
Posted by: Karen Strickland
My son died as a result of a traumatic ACCIDENT...with that, my anger stemmed from those that felt they had to say something, a platitude, mostly for their benefit, not mine. As I felt anger rising at their comments, I reflected on a few lines from a poem someone gave me at my son's funeral..."When you are lonely, and sick of heart, go to the friends we know...bury your sorrows in doing good deeds...Miss me, but let me go... It really helped to let a mother with young children go ahead of me at the supermarket, or buy the person in back of me at Dunkin Donuts a cup of coffee..that turned a dark place in my heart into a much lighter place, because I did those things in honor of my son...
Posted by: Laureen
I didn't go through the anger phase of Grief, when our 27 year old son took his own life after a long bought with bi-polor. The reason I didn't I believe, is that I learned to trust in God and my faith grew so much stronger due to our childs death. I remember the verse in the bible Romans 8;28-32 All things work together for good to those who love the Lord and are called to His purpose. Although the hurt inside of me was so awful I knew that the Lord knew what was best for all of His children. So there was no anger because of my child's death, I trusted God with my child I knew He knew what was best for Him .
Posted by: Freda Lowery
Accepting anger as part of the healing and grieving process after a loss is the beginning of walking through it. Anger unfelt or undealt with can cause such pain. One way that I learned to deal with anger after losing my daughter was to begin (through prayer) learning to forgive those who were involved in my daughter's death, including God. I was most angry at Him. Through prayer and understanding God's heart, I was able to finally feel the forgiveness and freedom that came along with the feeling. It was NOT easy, nor simple and it took years to truly feel that I had forgiven. However, it began with the desire and need to let go of the anger.
Posted by: Daphne Mayer
after the emptiness, then the anger set in. it took awhile, but for me, i tell people.."christoher wouldnt have left me, unless he got a better offer". And i truly believe that! and one day soon i will be with him again.
Posted by: donna
Our daughter died 3 months prior to her 18th birthday as the result of an accident caused by a 36 year old man who sped through a red light. We directed the energy of our anger into working to change the road on which she was killed as well as working with the community nonprofit that educates about red light running. This is balanced by our work in raising awareness about organ, tissue, and research donation.
Posted by: Sue Wintz