Most of us know the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. That being said, most of us also realize that everyone faces their grief journey differently. Some of us live in depression for years. Some of us skip bargaining. To those of us whom are newer to grief, we think that once we hit acceptance we are in the clear. Unfortunately, after suffering a huge loss, we can never fully put it behind us.
Anger is my least favorite stage of grief because of all the guilt that comes with it. Especially now. Now, I have accepted my brother’s suicide. I have done my research. As much as I can apply logic to the scenario, I have. I now recognize that my brother probably suffered from schizophrenia during the last year of his life. I know for sure that he used drugs to cope with whatever symptoms he was experiencing. I know that when my brother died, he had been awake for nine days straight. I know that the decision that my brother made was not one that he made with a sound mind. A decision that ended his life and shook the very foundation of so many others was not his own decision, at least it wasn’t his decision alone. To me, these are facts. Facts and rationalizations I have made over the course of the past year.
That being said, as the first anniversary of his death is approaching, anger is building inside of me again. It started about a month away from his anniversary. I was saying goodbye to my mom, and she said “I want to see you again around Erik’s anniversary.” Something that shouldn’t upset me, right? Except for that two days after the anniversary of his death is my 30th Birthday. She didn’t mean anything by it. But it made me angry. It made me angry that February, a month that used to hold so much excitement, will forever contain a dark cloud over it. I got mad that my birthday will never be the same again. Do I think he intended for his actions to have this consequence? Absolutely not. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel angry.
However, what I have learned about anger, especially in this last year, is that it is okay to feel angry. It is okay to feel denial. It’s okay to bargain. It’s okay to be depressed. Sure, it feels better when you are feeling acceptance. But nothing is guaranteed, and you won’t live in acceptance. Through every ebb and flow in your grief journey, it is important to be gentle and forgiving on yourself. It is important to allow yourself to feel. Most importantly, it is necessary to ask for help and support when you need it.
Be gentle on yourself.