This week we had dear friends unexpectantly lose an amazing family member. He was a cherished father, husband, grandpa and overall a great person. Our hearts break for their family has they begin to grieve and process this loss.
Our friends have a six-year-old that is processing this loss through her sweet, innocent soul. I was informed that her first question to her parents when she found out about the accident was, “Is Grandpa with Harrison?” At first, this explanation was enough to help her understand her “new normal.” Eventually this sweet, six-year-old said, “I’m glad that Harrison has Grandpa. They are going to have fun together in heaven! But I’m mad that I don’t get to be with Grandpa.”
This reminds me of another point in my life when I called to tell a close friend I was expecting. Typically this is an easy conversation. But this time, it was different because my dear friend was struggling with infertility. I wanted to be sensitive to her situation but I didn’t want to offend her by not sharing my news. I will never forget what she said that day. She said to me with grace, “I am very happy for you and I am very sad for me.” The feeling was mutual!
Hearing about this sweet child’s grief, as well as, reflecting on the words of my dear friend brings back so many feelings. There are many emotions I have gotten familiar with over the past 4 months. I now have a better understanding of the phrase “emotional roller coaster.” We all have or will have experiences with grief and anger in our lives. I wish I could protect my friends and family from this awful reality, but I can’t. No one is exempt from anger. So tonight I find myself reflecting back on my experience with anger.
Anger seems to be the most destructive and difficult of the grief phases. I’m pissed! I’m mad at the universe for taking my Harrison. I’m mad at myself for not having better intuition. Don’t get me started on how mad I am at our old daycare provider. I’m mad at any parent that casually complains about everyday parenting stresses; as I would trade there challenging child with my situation in a heartbeat. I’m mad at myself for also having inpatient moments with Bennett and/or Jason. I’m mad at the innocent person describing their “bad day” which pails in comparison to losing a child.
These are all situations I have to live with and process daily. This is my reality, and this is what I am learning as I process my experience with anger.
I believe anger is caused by our personal perception of a given situation. It doesn’t mean the “situation” is technically right or wrong. However, if your perception of a situation, is that something is wrong or unfair, you will feel anger. So you are NEVER wrong for feeling anger. It’s your personal perception and you have a right to your opinion.
Having said that, there is no coincidence that anger is one letter away from danger. When I’m angry it seems to negatively affect my soul, my job, and my relationships. Face it, no one wants to hang out with a “Negative Nancy” even if your reasons for being negative are valid. Additionally, the individual I was harboring anger towards was not negatively impacted. Therefore, I was gaining nothing positive from my anger. And I hate not being productive!
So this is my recap, I have a right to feel angry (everyone does). Being angry doesn’t fix anything or help anyone, including myself. But I found I can’t control the feelings of anger or hide from them. It IS going to happen. Bennett does not deserve to be raised by an angry Mom. Jason does not deserve to have an angry spouse. I do not want to live a life of uncomfortable, cold anger. So within days of losing Harrison I recognized I was going to have to learn to experience it, manage it, and move past it.
In fact, during our first counseling session after losing Harrison, Jason and I realized that we had a duty to honor Harrison, through a strong marriage, and providing a loving, caring environment to raise Bennett. So my motivation was born for overcoming anger. I put one foot in front of the other and decided I would replace my anger with spreading joy. With time, the process of Harry’s Joy was created.
However, my struggle is not over. With the help of Harry’s Joy and each passing hour, day, week, and month it becomes easier to process my anger. When I feel angry I allow myself a few moments to vent and release. Sometimes through screaming, crying, exercise, or talking with Jason and/or a close friend. Then I regroup and connect with my core motivation; Jason, Bennett and Harrison. Then with one foot in front of the other, I force myself to do something positive. Sometimes the task comes naturally but other times it feels like I am dragging my body through knee high mud.
This Monday another 28th occurred and another Harry’s Joy took place. This month we delivered treats to the fire station. Bennett spent the week decorating the box that contained the treats as well as discussing how we would make the firemen happy. When we arrived at the fire station our box was reciprocated with a tour of the fire trucks. Bennett got in the trucks, checked out the outfits, honked the horn, and gave each fire fighter a high five. I feel like we ended up receiving the gift this month!
Thank you to everyone who is walking this mission with us. The constant reminders of each act of kindness helps us walk our journey and focus on our key motivation. I can’t express the appreciation I feel for the love and support that has surrounded over the last 4 months. If you want complementary Harry’s Joy cards a list of pick-up location is here.