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Anger after a death

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by NolaGal, Sep 4, 2013.

  1. NolaGal

    NolaGal Peer Supporter

    I think I've been holding back some anger and I think talking about the situation might help me dig it out. You are all so supportive and I feel like I can talk about this here:

    I mentioned in another thread that my husband and I had lost a very dear friend to suicide earlier in the summer. He had an overwhelming gambling addiction that only a few family members and close business partners knew about. He was the type of person who would give you the shirt off his back but he just couldn't ask for help for himself. My heart is still broken but from the beginning I have let myself feel the sadness when it comes. I only learned about TMS less than a month ago, but feeling the emotions connected to the loss just felt like the right thing to do even then. The funeral, however, was the most disrespectful service I've ever attended (and I've been to almost 20 funerals). It made me very angry and I tried to forget it pretty soon afterward, but I don't think that's a good thing. I'd rather get it out before it causes me TMS trouble.

    The preacher didn't even know him, and was chosen by a very judgmental sibling who had never gotten along with my friend. It was more of an "infomercial" for hardcore Christianity than a sermon to comfort the bereaved. He started out with "Well, I didn't know _____, but I know he's in one of two places right now". Um, what? The rest of it was mostly different forms of "be a Christian or go to hell". Other highlights included (and I'm paraphrasing a little) "all humans are filthy sinners, even little children". There were also several older ladies from this man's church who only came to hear the sermon. They didn't know a soul sitting in the pews. That made me mad, too, although I guess that's none of my business, and I guess it's not inherently wrong, but I'm still angry about it.

    Now, I'm not a Christian myself (and I'm not trying to stir up any religious debates here!) but I've been to many a comforting Christian funeral, so I know they're not rare. I'm even okay with a small "this is the only way to Heaven" message if it's done tactfully, but it shouldn't be the whole funeral service, and you should probably not use the word "filthy" in any context when speaking over someone's casket. Our whole group of friends/co-workers was appalled. Hearing that sermon was like having salt poured in an open wound. My anger is directed more at the family member who put this man in charge of the service. I still don't know what to make of it. I've never had such an experience before.
  2. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Oh dear. I'm not really sure what can be said of such appalling behaviour. This really isn't about religion or faith but more how a person in a position of power can act with such variance in the implicit trust we give them. That such people err within this capacity is only human but to venomously shoehorn their own hatred, prejudice and narrow-mindedness into such a situation is unforgiveable. No wonder you are reeling and angry. To lose a dear friend in such circumstances is bad enough but to be subject to mediaeval rhetoric when grieving and vulnerable is evil. I shall never understand what motivates this behaviour, nor do I want to, but they must be terribly conflicted and confused. Silly, silly people. But to hell with them, you and yours and the memory of your friend are what matter now. You are with friends and we are here for you.

    Many, many years ago I experienced something of a similar nature but I was too young to realise exactly what was happening, and I was protected by my parents. It was a grandparents funeral and it was, for want of a better description, hijacked by certain family members to make a point. They dominated the front rows in the church, they gave the vicar the wrong name (pops used a diminuitive of his middle name not his Christian name), and they caused a scene at the graveside. It was so bad, the youngest son was so disturbed he had to be lead away. Fast forward through the years and this young man developed throat cancer. On hearing the news I immediately made a connection, realising it was because at the grave he *should* have said his piece but instead he swallowed all that rage and sorrow. His family had acted in a disgusting way and even in the face if it, good manners held sway. Mercifully he healed but the rent in the extended family remains.

    I think about this sometimes and wonder what would have been best. By extension all I can really say is let it out, all the anger, no matter how ugly. Better that than to let it fester. As for what happened at your friends funeral, I see and understand and pray there is some healing in the witnessing.
    Ellen likes this.
  3. NolaGal

    NolaGal Peer Supporter

    Thanks Plum :)

    Your story is really compelling, too. People can really hurt each other, huh? Most of the emotional pain in my past I truly believe was caused unintentionally, mainly out of my parents' fear. The sort of thing we're talking about here is something else, or maybe just the way some people deal with extreme fear and emotional pain. Regardless, it certainly can be painful for many others involved. I've been focusing my anger on the family member who knew what this preacher would do, instead of on the man himself. He was just doing what he does and I don't think he was trying to be mean (maybe a bit judgmental and "holier than thou") but now I'm thinking I should explore the anger I have towards him and people who go around with that sort of attitude. Really, it's not okay to stand over a casket and hint broadly that someone is likely roasting in hell at that very moment. After all, white supremacists are just "doing what they do" and that's not okay, either. People can believe what they want but when it comes to action and public speech I think we have a right to draw a line, at least for ourselves regarding what we "allow" ourselves to accept. If my friend had been of the same mindset as the preacher then that sort of service wouldn't have been so inappropriate, I guess. It was his "perfect, do-everything-right" sister's way of finally getting back at him, and that's just about the lowest blow I can possibly imagine.
  4. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    You've nailed the essential points. People can and must grieve in their own way and while this may not seem rational it's ok as long as we don't injuriously violate the others way. God alone knows why some folk act as they do. They have to live with that and with themselves.

    Most of the time, the custodians of threshold and ritual do their best to ensure a dignified and peaceful end. Some manage the intellectual decompression with more grace and less emotional fire and for us sensitive souls this matters.

    While I may not know you in real life, my sense is that you are a woman of much compassion, humour and love. With this in mind, we both know that a day in the future will roll around when you will laugh at the silly, little man who spouted such hogwash, and the strange sibling who couldn't let her brother be the man he was. And you'll raise a glass to your friend, and somehow the world will right itself.
    NolaGal and Ellen like this.
  5. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    There's nothing I can add to Plum's beautiful, wise, and compassionate response. She always nails it. But I want to thank you for posting your story and sharing it with us. I think this is a very healthy way to acknowledge and release the emotion of anger, and then, hopefully, keep it from causing you physical pain in the future. This forum is such a healing place.
    NolaGal and plum like this.
  6. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thank you my sweet angel. Yours are healing words, and this is a place where we can be profoundly nourished.
    NolaGal likes this.

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