You’ve probably played Chutes and Ladders at some point in your life, but if you’ve been through tough grief, you’ve lived it.
I remember playing it when I was a kid. You’d be bopping along hitting ladders, but sometimes, you’d hit a chute. The chutes might take you back just a couple spots, a whole line on the game board, or almost all the way back to the beginning. I remember hitting the BIG chute – the one that went back almost to the beginning square – and feeling just complete disappointment and failure at going so far back.
There are days in grief where you hit the ladders, days when you hit the little chutes, and days when you hit the big chute – the one that takes you back to the rawness of the beginning. When you were a kid, you threw a fit over being so unlucky as to tumble down the chute. As an adult spiraling back into the rawness of grief, you might feel the same kind of anger: the anger of unfairness, of feeling jilted, of falling down into a place you thought you had passed through.
Just like when I was a child gunning to win the game, I feel anger when I hit a backwards slide. I’ve always been pretty motivated to be good at things, and grief is no exception: I feel the need to “be good at grief.” The problem is, I’m not really sure what that even means.Heck, maybe being good at grief means you let yourself be okay about hitting the chutes and going back to the raw beginning for a day or a week. But if that’s true, well, I guess I’m not being very good at it lately!
Mostly, I’m just angry a lot lately. I know anger is a stage of grief, and I guess it’s my month 5-6 phase. I’m just angry and bitter that this is my story. When there are so many happy stories out there, why is it that I had to have a sad one? It’s not right, it’s not fair, and it makes me angry.
If you’re reading this and you’ve been through an anger stage, do you have any advice for me on how to handle it?