Thursday, July 8, 2010


At our last session, our grief counselor said that next time, she thought maybe we could talk some about anger. I kind of gave a half-smile, because that is one emotion that has been puzzling me. At least in its apparent absence so far. I remember when I posted on Facebook for the first time a few weeks ago that I was struggling with the unfairness of it all, I got a slew of comments and personal messages—I think everyone was very relieved that I had put that out there, both because they wanted to make sure that I was not insane for NOT feeling that way and because they had been wanting to say it themselves. And Jess has often said that anger was one of her predominant feelings after her mom died, and again after Hudson died, and we both have found it curious that I just haven’t been able to connect very much with my anger over Hudson’s death.

Here’s the thing. I’m pretty sure that I am mad. For some reason, I just don’t FEEL mad. Most of the time. Then something happens that makes me feel MAD.

Right now, this is what makes me mad, more than anything else: seeing parents who don’t take care of their kids. It has always bothered me in the extreme when I see parents who don’t have their kids properly buckled in the car—no car seat or booster for small kids, kids who are too young to be riding in the front seat, people holding kids in their laps in the car. This has always left me disturbed, to say the least. And now? Now, it makes me PISSED. Are you fucking kidding me? The very easiest of ways you have to keep your kid from dying or being seriously injured, and you can’t even be bothered to do it? But then I, I take every possible precaution to keep my kid safe, including exploring the possibility of buying a fucking Swedish car seat so she can keep sitting rear-facing until age five, and then she dies from a stealthy infection that had pretty much killed her before we even knew she had it? THAT makes me mad.

Being mad feels good sometimes (and to all my more proper friends and relatives who read this, please excuse my language above, but really, sometimes, there is no other appropriate word, especially when you’re mad). But it also makes me feel conflicted—I have found myself going around making the most terrible judgments about people. “You don’t deserve that kid” is a thought that has cropped up in my mind more than I care to admit in the last 2 months. It is just so very hard—and I have struggled with this since we first realized Hudson was not likely to recover from the meningitis—it is so very hard to know, in your heart, that you were one of the best parents a kid could have, and yet your kid is getting taken from you, while so many parents neglect, abuse, or just don’t want their kids, and yet they keep getting to be their parents. It is awful. And so incredibly unfair. It raises the question that every parent who has lost a child asks at some point: “WHY?” But that question has absolutely no answer, so all you can do is be mad.


  1. Right on Mandy...I'm Mad to, at God! There, I said it. Renee P.

  2. I struggled with miscarriages and infertility and I felt this same anger pretty much all the time. Sometimes the world just doesn't make sense, and loss is something that can magnify that and throw your balanced view of the world way off kilter. I am glad you are owning your anger. It can feel scary to be angry, but it makes sense.

  3. Mandy- you continue to blow me away with your courage, your ability to articulate exactly how you are learning to live in a life for ever changed, and your undeniable strength and contributions to this world-- through your relationships, your expression, and your profound ability to share and teach others. Sending love and light as long as it is needed to you and yours.
    Lisa (Weissman-Ward)

  4. Hi Mandy, you have every reason to be mad. I think, though, that the reason it's an ill-fitting emotion for you is that it's pretty much the opposite of what you are, which is kind, phenomenally kind.

  5. Mandy,

    I am grateful you are giving voice to your anger — and allowing all of us to witness this part of your grief. Anger and sadness are so inexorably linked. We feel it, in our own ways, with you.

    I am also grateful that you are publicly acknowledging what we all know: that you’re a great mom. It’s maddening to see people not only take for granted the blessings they have but actually not to even want them. I guess we probably all do that to some extent by wasting a talent or focusing on the negative — that’s part of the unfairness of life. But your joy at being Hudson’s mama was always obvious; your appreciation of her so totally evident. That’s one of the reasons so many of us are angry on your behalf.

    Take care, Kate Z.

  6. mandy, i just want to let you know that i have been following every post you so articulately share here, and mostly, i have just been listening since i never know quite what to say. what i do know is that everyone reacts differently to everything- especially loss- and i was shocked at my own fierce anger while i watched your story of Hudson unravel. I felt so so angry, before sadness even hit. Anger is a scary feeling- like your friend above said- but sometimes, it certainly has its place. I continue to be a witness to your strength and catharsis. many blessings to you and your husband.

  7. I hope it will help you to tell you that I can see your anger clearly. I saw it in the hospital and at your house in DC. Over the holiday, it was so near the surface that I felt watchful and prepared to meet the explosion, in whatever form it appeared.

    But anger does not always explode. I feel your puzzlement over it because, though your anger is absolutely righteous, anger is just not..rational. How could it help?

    It cannot possibly explain the blatant unfairness, or interrupt the pain, endlessly tapping on your chest and throat, or reverse that awful sequence of events, thoughts and memories.

    It IS a kind of antidote for the helplessness and defeat of it all, though. Precisely because it is irrational. Releasing it can make you feel powerful and strong for a short time. Jaw clenching or voice screaming or fists pounding or feet kicking.

    Or just fantasizing about going off on that ignorant hefer with the loose babies in the car. With your gift for words I bet you could put her in her place! Maybe your deft writer could compose a diatribe...

    These kinetic, adrenal-ized, surges help keep channels of power and vitality intact, in a way that exercise, meditation and even encouragement can't. They boost determination. Often there is clarity afterwards, and a sense of satisfaction, however brief, that grief strictly forbids.

    As you know, I have had an intimate relationship with anger over many years. I know well the pitfalls, both of indulging it with abandon and of dissociating from it entirely.

    This last approach, one of self-imposed blindness, gave rise to what may be the longest stretch of whistling in the dark known to man, and has had the most dire and bitter consequences for me.

    My relief when I hear you voicing anger comes from a fervent hope that you will not suffer in at least that one way.

    So get mad Mama.

    I love you