“I sat with my anger long enough and she told me her name was grief.” – Anonymous
Can’t you just see it? You finally come to sit face to face with your anger—all the things that make your blood boil and your bones shake—and what does she tell you? That perhaps her name is actually grief? I don’t know if you’ve ever had to experience this terrifying encounter before, but I know that I certainly have.
It usually goes something like this: you spend days, weeks, or even months drowning in your own indignation towards a person, a relationship, or a season in your life that has passed. You find your thoughts swarming with unanswered questions like “how did this happen?” and “how did I let this happen?” And then comes the moment you decide to sift through all the emotions you’re feeling—the moment that you hope will give you clarity. So you meet up with your anger. Perhaps it’s in a small coffee shop. Maybe it’s on a beach. Maybe she comes to your house. I don’t know. But regardless, you meet her somewhere. And there, she explains to you the very last thing you could have wanted to hear—that to get past the anger, you have to finish grieving.
Scientists say that there are five stages of the grieving process: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Do you think that it’s at all possible that we take refuge in this second stage because anger is the easiest emotion to sit in? Think about it. Anger is passion. It’s rage. Your head spins and your body screams. It’s usually accompanied by blame, and easy to place on someone else. But grief? Well, grief is floods of unwanted tears. And when the tears stop, it’s a sort of silent ache that echoes through your body. It’s uncomfortable. It’s seemingly intolerable. It’s a lot worse than anger. And most often, the things that we grieve are abstract. The word “grief” indicates that there has been a death. But I think that what most people forget, is that death is not a concept that only applies to the human life. Sometimes, it’s the death of a relationship, or a friendship, or a part of yourself. And while the grieving process obviously looks different when you physically lose a loved one, it’s important to remember that we still have to grieve other things, too.
I also think it’s probable that our society has raised us to live in avoidance of the things we’re feeling or even grieving. Our culture tends to be constantly moving—going from one thing to the next. We don’t save time for ourselves, and when we do, it’s often difficult for most of us to sit in silence. We fidget, we get distracted, and we’re fickle with how we spend our time. There’s a lot to feel in this world—oy, anger, excitement, passion, grief—but I’m not sure if we give ourselves enough time to truly feel it all. I think a lot of us are allowing parts of ourselves to masquerade as something that they’re not, simply because it’s just a little easier to keep moving in something like anger, rather than to stay and sit in something like grief.
By Hannah Philipp
Photo Credit: Harris Clook