Q: My husband recently left me after 20 years of turbulent marriage. I have five children to bring up on my own. We are struggling financially and emotionally but this is not the hardest part. I am so angry with those that I perceive have ignored our difficulties and not helped us that I find it hard to be civil to them. I find myself having angry outbursts and saying things that I hope will hurt them as much as I have been hurt. I am also resentful of others who have happy family situations. I know God has not brought this upon me but I struggle to understand why He has not stepped in and been more visible in my life. Please help me-It feel that my anger and resentment is going to overwhelm me.
A: I am sorry to hear of your loss. It is hard to lose one’s life companion and the one who has—for better or worse—been the father to one’s children. It is also hard to lose the financial support and stability, But most of all, it is hard to lose the hopes and dreams that you had for your family.
You not only have to cope with your own grief at what has happened to your family but you also have to deal with the reactions of your children. Depending on their ages they will react differently. Change is always hard to handle.
Being angry at what happened is understandable. Especially if you felt that things could have been handled differently or if you had been hoping for support and help from others and did not get it. Life is not fair. It is often the innocent ones who suffer most. This reality of life is one that many people struggle to understand.
Anger is a legitimate emotion in many circumstances, but it seems your anger has taken hold of you in a way that is detrimental to your mental health and your other relationships. By hurting others, you are pushing them away from you and reducing the likelihood of them helping you. You might temporarily feel better because you have expressed what was weighing on your heart but in the long run you will not have accomplished what you are really trying to do. What you need (and I suspect desperately want) is for someone to acknowledge that you have good reason to be angry.
When we are in emotional pain we want someone to be there for us. Someone who can listen as we try to reason our way through what has happened and as we express our disappointment in people and perhaps even in God. You need a listening and sympathetic ear, and although friends are invaluable in times like these you might need to find a counsellor to help you navigate through these troubled waters.