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Stage 2 Anger, sadness, loneliness

Anger is not a common emotion experienced by me. I’m usually patient, reflective and try to be content. I do not suffer fools gladly and can be angered but this takes time and does not last long

I don’t believe I experienced much anger in relation to Dads death. He was very old and had lived a fulfilled life, he lived so many more years than ever was expected and had remained in good health up until the last few years, I was happy for the time we had, despite the sadness of expected loss. However ill health over a number of years is hard core and demands a number of different skills- patience, physical and emotional strength and tolerance. Caring is long and arduous. The getting up 4-5 times at night, waiting for ambulances after a fall, preparing food, the time and patience required to get a loved one up, dressed fed and into a living room is not for the faint hearted it can take hours and days disappear into the most simple tasks which for those of us who are able take minutes or even seconds. Bureaucracy requires pin numbers and passwords and demands these within strict criteria and time frames. The elderly struggle to manage these and it can be overwhelming causing feelings of frustration and inadequacy in them and their family, unable to help

I found myself being carer not just to my father but my mother who was exhausted and to my husband who was seriously ill with a life limiting illness. I got little sleep but had to continue with work demands and caring for my children.

I did not have time for a social life. Unlike my peers the people I most wanted to socialise with were too unwell and I didn’t have the energy anyway. I found I lost contact with a number of friends over the years. I felt I was not interesting any more, I didn’t join in in the same way. However I also found that I struggled with some friends.

I struggled with trivia- evenings spent looking at cute cat and dog pictures, people getting drunk together and discussing holidays I had no time or interest in. People discussing irritations with their partners. People posting about yet another weekend away somewhere surrounded by smiling happy people. People posting about their striving for the body beautiful

In principle I understood that life continues on despite the death of a loved one. However I was jealous. I was still young. I no longer had the opportunity to do any of those things and would not for countless years. The reality for me was that for me to have those things I would not just have to experience one death but may well experience several. If not death itself, there would be critical life changing challenges ahead. A life of pleasure and ……… was not available to me and would not be until I was potentially alone. I didn’t want to change what I had, I didn’t want to lose those I loved. I would never trade them for what my friends had. Their time would come soon enough but I found it hard to experience their lives within the context of mine. It was a very isolating experience.

I don’t believe I was angry. Frustrated yes, but mostly sad and very alone at times. Sometimes overwhelmed. I am aware I have a tendency to become disinclined to tolerate those I believe to be foolish. I’m aware I can be cutting in my language.

I found that I wanted to just be around a few people so that I didn’t have to be repetitive about things and having to keep a large number of people updated but also having people around who were supportive. I found solitude pleasant and undemanding.

In my experience anger was intermittent and I experienced it very little. I made an effort to reflect on any anger I did experience and try not to allow it to be destructive. I looked for positive ways to use the energy generated by anger. These had to be easily accessible, cheap and things which could be done to differing levels of energy and time. They could not demand too much setting up or being abandoned mid-way through for long periods whilst I dealt with other aspects of my life. I found craft useful in winter and on very windy and rainy days but the best was destructive gardening, sawing, chopping and cutting at things – the more over grown and challenging the better.

Anger is viewed as a negative emotion. Anger however is essential to us. It protects us when things overwhelm us but it’s most precious gift to us is energy. It energises us. Energy brings with it the possibility of movement. It is up to us how we use that. We can hold our anger tight and feel resentment and frustration or we can use it as a force for change.

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