Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Of All The Feelings in The World ....

                                           picture from here

.... I hate that one the most.
Or at least it's in the top 3.
Pity might be number 1.

It's an exhausting emotion and it leads people to make very bad, very poor choices while they are in it.  And you mostly feel worse afterwards.

Rage has been a regular visitor at my house over the last 2 weeks.
I will not bore you with all of the horrid "teenage vs. parent" details.  Let me just say that when you add in "grieving teenage boys vs. parenT (singular)" ..... it can be more horrid that you can imagine.
I will tell you that at this moment in time, neither of my sons is living in my home.
Both have made bad choices and are now facing the consequences of those choices.  One son doesn't think his was a bad choice, and it may turn out that it wasn't so very bad....if he can turn things around and make something good come of it.
I know he can if he wants to.  And this is his chance.

At first he cried and begged for me to change my stance (he knew what my stance would be long ago).
Then, he raged at me.
All normal.
All expected.
As a mom .... the rage was a lot easier to hear than the crying, so I was relieved when he moved on to that emotion.
Now he is understanding .... and determined to prove to himself, and his mom (and everyone else) that he can do this.
I have no doubt that he will.

The other son made a choice yesterday that is beyond bad.
I don't even have a word to describe the severity of this choice.
But .... he made it.
While in a rage.
Fortunately for him, he made this choice with me, and not with anyone else.
Or the outcome would be very, very different.
And very, very far-reaching.

And, in a rage upon a rage, he left.
Thinking that he was choosing to not live here.
I know where he is.  I know he is being looked after by a wonderful friend who has shared these kinds of troubles with her own sons.
Just so you know ...... Everybody has "something".  They may try to hide it (most people do), they may even lie about it or try to convince themselves it's not there ..... but they can't fool everybody forever.  And they can't feel "normal" until they share it with someone .... bring it out in the open.
There is no perfect person .... and certainly no perfect family.

So I know where my son is.
I know that he is safe.
And I know that he now knows ..... that staying in our home is no longer his choice.
He knows that I love him, but that he cannot live here with the way things are.  He has to deal with the choice that he made.  A choice that could have ended his future ..... if he made it with someone else.
I'm sure that he is still raging.
But I'm also pretty sure that the rage is starting to ebb ..... a bit.

That's the thing about rage .... it takes way too much energy to keep sustained.
I know.
Because last week, instead of writing a post for Widow's Voice, I was raging.

My life has been anything but calm since Jim died.
It has been (and really, you can ask those who've been along for the 4 year ride .... I'm not exaggerating) one thing after another.  RIGHT after another.  Health issues for the kids (life or death issues and life-long testing for all of them), health issues for me,  cancer, surgery, long and painful recovery,  depression and suicide issues, more health issues, school issues, behavior issues, military school, rage, drugs, more health issues, a hurricane, another hurricane, trees falling on houses ...... I'd keep going, but by now it's sounding ridiculous.
Suffice it to say that not one single week goes by without an "issue".
Not one.
In four years.

And last week, was the last straw with my older son.
Or so I thought.  (It turns out I seem to have plenty of straws.)
And so I raged.
I raged at God.
He and I are still working on it, but I'm over the rage.  Way too weary to keep that up for long.

But before I lost my rage momentum, I turned it onto Jim.
Really ..... for the first time.
I have sometimes joked that I'm ticked at him for leaving me to deal with ...... our life.
And I've sometimes been sad when I've thought about it.
And maybe once or twice .... really ticked.

But last week .... last week I raged.  I think I may have even looked upwards (because I know where he is) and shouted "F--- YOU FOR DYING AND LEAVING ME WITH ALL OF THIS!! F---- YOU FOR TAKING THE EASY WAY OUT"!!!  Vern walked into my house at just that time, and as he held me in his arms and let me sob and sob and rage, I said, "I HATE Jim for dying!  I HATE him!"
He said nothing, as any wise man would ..... and continued to hold and rock me and let me sob and rage until I no longer had the ability.

Now hopefully you all know that I don't really hate my late husband (late .... a rather ironic word because he was late to most everything.  Sorry .... just an aside.  :)
You all know that I didn't mean those ugliest of ugly words.
Because some of you have had these same thoughts.
Some of you haven't.
Maybe you never will.
It took 4 years for me.
Well, 4 years, 1 month and 20 days.

I have no idea if I'll ever think them again, but I wonder.
Last week I was raging because a son had broken what I thought was my last straw.
This week ..... another son broke a fistful of straws.
But I am not raging.
It really does take too much energy.
And besides, if I'm going to start raging every time something shitty happens in our lives .... I'll have a stroke before I'm 55!  I don't believe one can rage, truly rage, once a week and survive for very long.  Some blood vessel somewhere is going to burst.  And unless it's a painless, one second "she never knew what hit her" death .... I'd rather that not happen.

So there you go .... a very quick run-through of some of the lowlights of my life these past 4 years, and my thoughts on rage.
I'm not sure what the point of this post is.  Except to admit to you that I raged at my saintly, perfect (cough, cough) dead husband.
For the first time.

And that we ALL  have crappy things in our lives.  I mean, crappy beyond the dead spouse, which is about as crappy as it can get ..... until it gets piled upon.

And that even people with very much alive spouses .... have crap.  Whether they show it or not ....
Everybody has something.
Which makes us all as normal as normal can really be.

On a P.S. side note, I'm writing to you now as an SSLF Board member.  Camp Widow East is right around the corner and we need some help.  Even from those of you who won't be going.  I know I've asked for this before and thank you SO much to those of you who responded, but we still need more information about grief support resources in the east (the eastern 1/3 of the US).  We're creating a data base of as many support groups, counselors, hospices, etc. and we need your help.  If you could please send me a list of all of the confirmed places a widowed person could go for grief support that are in your area .... and the surrounding areas, we would be very grateful.  We just need the name of the group, hospice, hospital, funeral home, etc. and it's contact information and the name of the person who's in charge.  Just collect all the info you can and send it to me in an email (  All it takes is a little time on the phone.  Not too much energy and you'd be helping so very many people .... some who are in desperate need of grief support.  Please help us.  Please.
I need to collect all of this by February 17th.  Don't make me beg.
Or bribe.
But if I have to .... I'll give everyone who sends me this info (more than one place, please) and comes to Camp Widow East ..... a dollar!
You got that right! ONE HUNDRED cents!!!  And a picture of George Washington!!  How often are you going to get a deal like that .... just for some time on the phone?!
Thank you again to those of you who've sent info ..... you can always send more names from other areas, even if you've already sent in one ..... or fifty.  More is good.  :)

OK, I'm now returning to my regularly scheduled blogging personality.
Let me know if you've raged.
And how it felt.
And for those of you who parent children under the age of 13 ..... bless you.
Hug them tight.
And then buckle your seat belt .......


  1. Janine,,,,,yes; I, too, very well know what rage is. We are the one's that are caring for a severely handicapped son for 46 years. My husband would never, ever go to the doctor for a physical, and I would plead, beg, and cry, and tell him that he was going to die and leave me to deal with all of this alone. He had a very bad heart attack the first of last year, and as the ambulance was taking him away (not knowing if he was going to live or die before he even got to the hospital,,he survived) I yelled, cussed,stomped my feet, and screamed, over and over, that I knew this was going to happen, because I told him it would when he refused to go to the doctor. I felt more rage, than sadness, for a very long time after, and still get feelings of it often. You are not alone.................


  2. I have recently found this blog and have tried to take the time everyday to read the posts. Having lost my wife on December 1st after an incredible battle with cancer, the emotions and feelings are very raw and new. I have been amazed at how so many of the emotions that all the bloggers write about I have or am having but this particular post hit so close to home. I to have dealt with the rage and anger of Torrey's death and the realization that not only that she is gone but I am left to raise our five children.

    As you have experienced, kids make mistakes. Some huge, some big and some as you find with the passage of time, not so big. What I have found through this experience is that time heals. Small wounds heal quickly, big wounds heal but take a while and the truly deep wounds may improve but never close over totally. Our oldest hurt us both deeply before his mothers death that it may never be repaired. Drugs will do this to relationships. He is trying to improve his life and in turn try to find a solution to the deep wound he inflicted upon us. My rage has been that I now have to deal with this by myself. It is my hope and my prayer to my wife for her to give me the strength to deal with this situation.

    I hope that you, Janine find the support and the people to help to through your difficulties and find a way to improve your wounds. God Bless You.

  3. Bless you - you raging lunatic <3- You can't possibly parent alone after losing the father to your boys and not lose it once an awhile. And you are so right - your boys are grieving. I have a son too and we watched my husband, his dad, fight cancer for 4 years till he died. My son is absolutely awesome most of the time, but he expresses rage as I do at times when life gets the best of us. I guess everyone needs a safe place to fall. We just have to learn how to fall without hurting anyone. Now he's 18 and in the midst of very serious life decisions--all good hopefully. You are right when you say pull up your boot straps - you are in for a ride. 18 is not easy. They say it takes a village to raise kids - I say "where is the damned village???" I wondered that so many times when my husband died when our son was just 13. Not one of the many so called friends or dads of friends helped. I thank God everday for my dad who really stepped up to the plate to help out. I would not have made it without him and I know my son would have been lost. And I have some MEANINGFUL conversations with my dead husband too. I can just hear him "It'll get better babe." He certainly was not prophetic or into reality, but oh man I miss him!!

  4. Janine: Yes I too have felt rage - but it took me a very long time - or so I thought, just over 3 years. Hit my "breaking point" when I had to sign my then 13 year old son into a psychiatric hospital this past September. Never have I felt as angry, or alone, as when I saw the ambulance drive a way from the acute "psychiatric intervention program" (code name for crappy ER that does nothing - and have had the "good fortune to have been thee not once but twice now with my son) taking him to the inpatient unit an hour from home (sucks to live in an area with inadequate resources close to home). Was pretty pissed off with God, my son, my "late" husband (had to laugh at your comment because mine was late for EVERYTHING as well - had a rather LARGE meltdown myself. Fortunately I held it together until I got to the car, or possibly I would have been sent to the psych hospital well. And now, 5 months later, he is 14, better, but a long way from "dealing effectively" with life. And afterwards I didn't feel much better, just tired from all the emotion..........

  5. I'm so sorry Janine that you too are going through this, and sorry that it's so normal. sigh.

    And the reality is that Jim (and Dave) never wanted to go. And to leave us with all this. They fought to stay. They would be thrilled to be stuck here with us to deal with it.

  6. Charles and I went through daughter's rage together from 14-17 (drugs, alcohol, stealing her mom's car, rehab) . we were together and it was so exhausting. My boys are 10 and 6...and to read this...I'm scared to death. I can't do it alone. I won't survive it. I wouldn't have survived it with the daughter. I'm not going to make it. I hug them every day and work on good choices an watch their friends. I quit my job and am so overly invovled that they don't leave my side. I'm hoping to avoid the rage...because it scares me to death.

  7. hi janine, (whispered in a meek voice)
    i am scared..just got a taste this month of the rough ride with my 14 year old..we are all going to a therapist tomorrow night so he can have someone other than me try to help him.
    In a nutshell, my son has been raging at us every school morning...his younger brother moves really slow and I have to help him with the older one because he was frustrated with him this morning out of now where and without warning hit him for taking too long brushing his teeth. that about??? ugh..I did a bunch of if your father was my head mostly and only one time out loud. Also when I made the appointment for the therapist..I felt like I was going to be paying for "Rent a Husband help" for my teen. ..meant to make you chuckle..but I really did think that. I am not there yet being mad at Duke. I would if I could...but it would freak me out if I was mad at "him" for leaving me. I know a lot of widows go through is just that I admired him so much for fighting so hard...i do not kid myself Duke probably would of sucked as much as I do at times trying to fight the urges of wanting to lash back at our son the way he is lashing out at his younger brother and I.... as only an irrational hormonal 14 year old can. It's just that Duke was the fun parent and would probably have sat on Luke and threaten to fart on him if he did not knock it off. (Sorry for going there) but the boys seem to relate to that kind of humor and dare I say-I am guessing here on this one but could it be "that is how they bond" and punish each other? All the wrestling to help with dispeling the brothers were always beating each other up and play fighting...I stayed out the way, being an only girl with three older brothers well I considered it slightly abusive as a kid...well it was a power play and I never understood how they could on command..fart..since I do not have Duke here and he shared no guy growing up secrets with me..I need to hire a dad for my son...Ok while writing this I had a twinge of anger at Duke for not shraing more about how it was for him as a teen...but then I never asked...I just know he would of loved this time with his boys and if we had to put our son into a facility for help- we would of had each other to hold onto for support...and to be there for him..and how much of my sons rage is at his dad not being here..still needs to be figured in. ((hugs to all us solo parents of teens))

  8. Been down similiar roads with my daughter! and it is his fault! She is as stubborn as he was at her age! Worse! I guess what is the hardest is we must play the good guy and bad, then do all of it alone while missing them. I really wish things get better or all of us, because how much can one woman take.

  9. I admire you for keeping the rage at bay for so long. I am on the other end of the spectrum because I have been raging at my husband since just a few weeks after his sudden and totally unexpected death in his late 30s. So I have been raging for over 4 yrs now, not constantly of course because that would be deadly to me and would leave our 4 children parentless. It comes in spurts and my oldest just turned 13, so my rage at my husband has more to do with why he died and being the one suddenly left behind with no answers and some major skeletons in the closet. His parents and sister have caused me nothing but heartache and fuel the rage because he should have dealt with some major family issues long ago. Fact is, I feel these family issues in addition to another issue did lead to his death. If he had dealt with them, they might not have broken him despite his desire to leave them in the past and rise above them. He never healed from his horrible childhood and couldn't escape his father's controlling behaviour. Self-medicating with alcohol just dulled the pain and hurt the family he and I made with four kids. And his affair and money issues only were confirmed after his death so I have had reason to rage for over 4 yrs now. I am at the point that I feel the need to just expose these skeletons if not to the world but at least just tell off his parents and sister and let them know that I cannot pretend that their version of life is true anymore. I have to do it for my own well-being and to stop the illusion for my kids. Because it has reached that point where pretending perfection on their part is a lie I cannot allow to continue, especially when it affects my kids. The oldest is getting some true teen mood swings and it might help him to know why I am so angry. I feel guilty keeping him in the dark and he is reaching the age where he should know these things.

  10. I enjoy the "vomitus." It just doesn't get any more real than that!
    You are right . . . Every1 HAS something.
    I don't know. I've been watching my kids (10,15,29,&31), watching myself, watching them watch me - and I scratch my head.
    The 10,15&31 live with me and they APPEAR to have adjusted, my husband died 8 months ago.
    I have been upfront with them with just about everything. A couple of times they saw me "crack." I scared the SH*T out of them the last time. But they've always been comforted, that even in the worst of times, in the end we ALWAYS communicate.
    My 29 year old son lives in Phoenix and he has totally shut down and refuses to connect or communicate with us. He shared an extraordinary bond with his dad. I'm scared for him. I'm scared he's running from his grief. I think my other boys and I had each other and that helped immensely.
    "Vomitus," oh yeah!