Anger at Sudden Loss – My Dear Friend, Craig, Part 4

If you’ve read my previous blogs, you know about the now-2-year-loss of my best friend growing up, Craig.  If not, you can catch up here:

I’ve experienced several feelings since Craig’s death.  Those feelings include shock and trauma, grief, sadness, anger, confusion, frustration, and some more anger.

In terms of resources, experience and education in handling the sudden trauma of his loss, I was “prepared” to handle such a loss.  But being prepared doesn’t make it hurt any less or require less effort to process it and be able to move on.  

That summer of 2016, I was in shock. I tried to figure out a way to see his body – I asked the police, his attorney of record, the morgue, because I refused to believe that it was him.  I finally obtained the police report and spent weeks poring over it.  I even drew out my own picture of the scene so that I could see with my own eyes that it really was him and try to be there in some way.

I also went to his apartment on Cherokee Street.  I organized it. I cleaned it. I played his piano and went through his things one by one. It was a ritual, a ceremony, to wash his dishes, his clothes, clean his bathroom and kitchen.  It didn’t make sense of course as his things would be moved out for the next tenant, but it was my way of … I don’t know.

I reached out to his family and friends, and when the shock finally wore off along with the pangs of sadness, I was left with anger.

I was angry at his friends for enabling him.

I was angry with our class for bullying.

I was angry with his family for hurting him.

I wasn’t perfect either – I was angry with myself.

He wasn’t perfect – I was really angry with him – for not finishing our fight, for not listening to me about treatment and relapse, and mostly for leaving me.

To process these feelings, I took a 2-pronged approach: 1) to analyze my feelings of anger as a secondary emotion and identify each primary emotion; and 2) to resolve any effects of trauma as echoes of post-traumatic stress.  For both, I utilized my resources – a therapist in the community, and the Grief Recovery Method.

I completed the Grief Recovery Method group program with a focus on him. I supplemented my GRM training with my background: I sat with my feelings as they ebbed and flowed for the past two years.  I cried when I felt the tears spring and I sat with my anger and understood it before letting it go. 

The feelings would hit me when I least expected them to: driving down Lindell Boulevard with my windows open, for example.  I know not to stuff my feelings.  I pulled over and let myself cry.  I remembered that summer nights with windows open were when Craig and I were up to no good in those good old days.  When the tears subsided of their own volition, I pulled back into traffic.

Had I tried to stuff my feelings back in, swallow my tears, they would not return when I arrived back home… we do not get to control and schedule our feelings.  But we can learn to feel them, express them and let them go so we can go on living well.

During these moments where feelings would arrive at my doorstep, I answered the door and learned that there were several components of loss that made his death complicated.  Not only was I mourning the death of my friend,

I mourned the loss of our friendship.
I mourned the loss of the idea that he and I would make up one day.
I mourned the loss of who he used to be.
I mourned the “him” that I knew was leaving months before he actually did.

I addressed each in its own right.

What remains is an echo of the anger.  I’m no longer mad at him, no longer mad at everyone or with the same intensity.  Now, I’m working on forgiving, and that is hard.  That is a process that takes its own time too.