Why we're here...

Love and marriage are the greatest adventures in life, and they point they way to our relationship with the Almighty.

We're honored to be a member of the Christian Marriage Bloggers Association...click on their logo to visit them.


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Your Dying Spouse 39 - Stages of Grief: Anger

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 K├╝bler-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...



  1. Anger can be very motivating if it allows both sides to move forward together. I agree that anger can create energy and strength toward reaching your goal which for you is healing and many days ahead. I am sitting here praying for you as I write this and letting your words once again inspire me to live life well everyday and not just on the days that you feel like it. I wanted to thank you for following me on Twitter. May God keep blessing you with words to share so intimately with all of us!

    1. I'm so glad that these efforts are giving you some measure of inspiration, Mary - that makes my day! And thank you for the prayers.

      The support I feel all around me through my friends' prayers are what keeps me going on the really bad days.

  2. I'm of the mindset that anger is not always a bad thing either, Andrew. In fact, my quiet time this morning was on how Jesus was angry at the moneychangers in the temple courts--because they were cheating the people and making the place useless for any type of worship. So yes! I believe anger serves good purposes at the right time and if handled well. Recently I watched a video done by a marriage blogger with a huge platform. She is publishing a book about the idea of not arguing in marriage. I understand the case she is making and see many good points to it, but I also believe that sometimes anger erupts in marriage and takes a course toward an argument--lending truth that would never have been spoken without the courage anger produced. Some of the most healing moments in my marriage came as a result of the resolution we came to after an argument brought the issue out into the open. Yes! I do hope that anger has been a catalyst for doing what fear and "denial" would not in your life, my friend! I hope you've let it push you into uncomfortable but good pursuits of more and better. Thanks for always giving us thought-provoking posts that will continue to minister for many years to come! You bless us!

    1. I look at anger and argument as something like surgery; handled with care and intention, it can sometimes be the only thing that excises a cancer, or rains an infection. There have to be ground rules, and one should never argue when the red mist settles in...because then it's directed toward hurting an individual, and not at the choices that individual may or may not have made. It's a tough distinction, because we often lack the perspective to see where that red road leads...but marriage (and Christian life in general) were never the promised to be peaceful pathways.

      Thank you for being here, Beth. Your thought-provoking comments hearten and bless me beyond words.

  3. I agree that anger can be useful when directed toward the right object, and when used as a motivating force. It is good to have this kind of anger. I can't imagine exactly what it is like, but I am sure the temptation is there to be angry at God as well, and it is so much better directed somewhere else. As you pointed out, it isn't God's fault. Thank you so much for leaving the thought provoking comment and link here on my blog. I look forward to reading more.

    1. Oh, yes, it's definitely easy to be mad at God! And it's normal, at some stage, to feel this way. I figure that He's pretty big, and that he can take it.

      And when our anger's spent, then He really can grasp our undivided attention.

      Thank you for being here; for all of you out there, Miranda wrote a superb blog post on pain - here's the link. Please visit her!


  4. Fight or flight...what you say is oh, so true; and I love how you handled the "God allowed it" part - for we DO have free will to choose. And if we have chosen that which makes us ill - or whatever - then we have exercised that free will. And, God uses that and any other situation we find ourselves in to His Good.

    Thank you as always for your words of wisdom...still thinking I need this "BOOK" for future use!!!

    Prayers for you both!!

    1. Barbara, thank you so much - without the conviction that God didn't 'send' this, I don't know if I would ever have stopped being angry with Him. I know that He would stop it if He could...but that stopping it arbitrarily would reduce His Creation to a kind of puppet show, and thereby nullify it.

      I'm in the process of organizing this into book form, with added material, and will be talking about that a bit in an upcoming post. And soliciting reader input, on questions ranging from what content should be added, to what kind of organization works best, and to title choice and cover design.

      And thank you for the prayers. They help!

  5. God is big enough to handle our emotions. Thankfully. Anger is such a secondary thing. It's all about hurt, frustration, fear, disrespect, those emotions that we all have to face.

    Grateful that He helps us wade through them. Well.

    1. I never thought of it as a secondary thing, but you're absolutely right. It is; it' simply a reaction.

      Nothing primal about it, and perhaps understanding that will make it asier to avoid. I hope.

      Thank you for contributing that; it's an eye-opener.

      You're in my prayers, Linda.