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Roar: A Journey in the Angry Stage of Grief

A Wrinkle in Time was my favorite book in third grade. Looking back, it was the beginning of my love of science. There was much wonder and possibility in the unknown and this classic inspired me to ponder what one could achieve. We watched the movie for the first time this past week. I love sharing my childhood favorites with my boys.

This past week was spring break and we had many extra hours at home to play. I bought a 20 pack of play-doh for the boys to create and play with. I’m one of those free spirited moms that doesn’t mind if they mix the colors. The boys spent two days practically non-stop creating all sorts of things. In the end, they mixed all 20 colors together to make a barricade over a toy school bus. It was obviously a mass tragedy as ninjas were buried and Hulk had to show up and bust them out.

As I was cleaning up the rubble, I couldn’t help but pause and notice all the colors of the play-doh mixed together: Parts of the pile were layered and the colors were clearly distinct where other parts the colors were blended all together for that classic nasty green color. That pile of rubble perfectly illustrated my emotions in this period of grief: distinct colors of pinks and bright oranges reminded me of my daily joys, the dark browns and black representing the heaviness of my loss, whereas, the mixed nasty green reminded me how confusing and murky it gets when all these complex emotions reside simultaneously in one heart.

My grief counselor classified the stages as shock, “if only”, depression, anger and acceptance. He explained you can travel in and out of these stages at different times. There’s no clean timeline or graduation date. Suddenly, I feel like a character in A Wrinkle in Time who is tessering; Except I’m tessering through grief stages and not through universes. I’m never really sure where I’m going but I’m searching for light. And like Meg, I struggle to tesser well. It’s a real life fight between light and darkness.

Most of my days I feel like that clump of 20 play-dohs layered together. I can pick out parts of my day that were joyous and moments when my heart ached for my Hudson. Honestly, much of my time is busy enough it distracts from deep emotions, but when I get alone I find those deep emotions waiting for me- often all mixed together. Sorting them out can be challenging, but three months in, I’m starting to recognize their faces.

This past week I have found myself stuck in anger. I hate this stage the most. I try to not land here. Like Central in A Wrinkle in Time, I’ve found it a universe without light. Things here often aren’t what they appear and it can be soul wrenching and lonely.

I’ve learned anger is different because peace evades this stage. It leaves my chest tight and feeling like it is about to burst. It makes me want to roar from the pit of my soul to try and relieve the tension. This past week I had two brief moments alone in a store. As anger swept over me I felt a rushing sensation to clear shelves and break everything. I visualized myself clearing several aisles of glasses in large swift sweeping motions. I wanted to feel the force needed to throw all that heavy glass and the relief of hearing it shatter. As I visualized this I realized how to everyone walking by I looked like the typical shopper. It was lonely to be so angry and to not be seen.

I’m the kid that grew up in bible class and I have always loved studying. I spent much of my high school and college years being a student of the bible. I often wrestled with the Old testament. The perfection that was necessary or the wrath that would ensue. I knew this as the Lion part of God’s character. I know the New Testament as the Lamb: the love, the forgiveness, the gift of grace. I’ve always known God to be both the Lion and the Lamb, but this just never made much sense to me. How was such a gracious God bringing down plagues and flooding the world? He seemed a bit temperamental and I often would doubt his grace in my life.

Until now. I now understand his rage against death. I love to envision the Almighty Lion standing on two feet roaring; raging in pain for the death his people have endured and then roaring a victors roar knowing he fixed it. I crave his justice and his revenge. I crave his Holiness- His Light.

I need a savior who can see me. I need a savior who gets how angry I am – how heartbroken i am. I need a savior who can appreciate my jealousy for “how it was supposed to be” and can be tender with me in my disappointments. I need a savior who is big enough to handle all my emotions in whatever mix they present today. I need his grace. I need a savior who has already gone before me and tackled these demons. I need a savior who looked death in the eyes and conquered it. I need a Lion and a Lamb. I need the Light.