Today we're linked with Messy Marriage's Wedded Wednesday; please visit to find some really great posts on how to make you marriage everything you dreamed it could be.
Today we'll talk about the second stage of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross' 'stages of grief' model, consisting of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.
Time for anger. We have talked about it before, but today we'll look at how to make anger constructive, rather than a simple destroyer of one's soul.
A terminal diagnosis, for the recipient or the spouse, is an attack, period. When attacked, we have the fight-or-flight response.
Denial, which we talked about last time, is flight.
Anger is fight.
But where is the anger directed? That's the first thing you, as the caregiver, have to know about yourself.
Part will be directed at the illness itself, that inhuman impersonal assault of life. It's understandable to direct anger there, but ultimately futile. Cancer doesn't care.
Part will be directed at your spouse...you'll be mad at him or her for being sick. There may be a 'lifestyle element' (why didn't you stop smoking!) involved, but that' really immaterial. The anger needs a focus; blameless or not, he or she will receive some of it, It isn't fair, or right. It's merely true, and you've got to accept that you're human in feeling it.
And part will be directed toward God, for did He not allow this? Without diving into theology and wandering from the subject...no, I don;r believe He did allow it, bar the general terms of having a world in which free will is vital. If we have the free will to choose, it follows that the world in which we live has some exercise of free 'will', or the randomness of disease. I do believe that the Almighty stands ready to help us, if we only ask Him!
And you will be angry at yourself, for not being good enough, for not having headed it off...somehow.
But how to make the anger work toward the good? In Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines Arnold Schwarzenegger says, "Anger is more useful than despair."
Granted that he's playing the role of a cybernetic organism, but he's right. Anger generates energy, and sandpapers the senses. Anger can lend strength.
It can make you keep looking for treatments or pallatives when the younger you, the you without this shadow in her life, would have cited fatigue and gone to bed.
This anger can find your spouse lying on a gurney outside the imaging center, chilled and uncomfortable, and have the energy to raise Cain to get the staff to respond - now.
And this anger can give your spouse courage - we're going to beat this thing!
Maybe you will, maybe you won't but it's sure better to walk the days in hope, that you can come out the other side together, and alive.
And driven by anger...
...YOU MIGHT JUST GET THERE.