Return To Sender

Have you ever been angry with someone and they die before those feelings are resolved?

Somehow it seems appropriate that when someone dies, you should stop being angry. As if the statute of limitations are up on your feelings.

Shouldn’t your anger die with them?

They are no longer living breathing beings. No threat or cause for alarm. But tell your mind that. See how that works for you.

Because, inexplicably, it somehow doesn’t.

Maybe the anger will fade a bit. Like a sun dress left on the clothesline too long. But still it festers and burns inside you.

A problem that you think you’ve sunk into deep waters to rid yourself of. Only to see it bob back to the surface. Glowing in the sunlight. Demanding to be acknowledged.

You ask yourself: Why do I still feel this way? Because, wouldn’t you think, the anger would dissipate and go away with time?

What are you supposed to do with those confusing and conflicting emotions?

You can’t stuff them in a box and slap a shipping label on them and send them far away. Because they find their way back. Like animals that have lost their way and instinctively find their way home.

Time and again, the box is parked upon your porch, waiting to be dealt with.

Return to sender.

17 Comments

  1. Try to remember that forgiveness is not for the other person (dead or alive) – it is for YOU. You could try a meditation app that focuses on forgiveness and letting go. I find these guided meditations (on a variety of subjects) really help with peace and clarity.

  2. Brenda, you have an incredible gift of hitting the nail on the head. I have found my own private way of dealing with ‘stuff’ and I am sure you will, too. Just be open to the answer.

  3. I have such experiences at times too, Brenda. There are times I have some phrase pop into my mind that my late father said, something that was hurtful and belittling, and I get filled with a helpless anger, knowing that I was emotionally messed up by such words, words I heard from him until he died when I was in my late 30’s. I loved my dad, and I know he loved me because there are some things he did do and say that were kind. But, he certainly wasn’t consistent! A year or so after he died, I did realize I felt relieved that he wasn’t actually around anymore. It meant I didn’t have to worry about him saying something mean when I wasn’t expecting it. One weird thing in my life is, I did not start going out with the man who became my second husband until probably six or eight months after my dad died. My second husband is so much nicer to me than any other man has been. It almost is like as long as my dad was alive, I just kept gravitating toward men who were similar to him, but once he was gone, I could notice someone who was different. That is probably just some nonsense, but it is rather interesting to me. My husband says maybe it was good he didn’t meet my dad, because my dad probably wouldn’t have liked him. That’s true!

  4. Depending on what the forgiveness entails, some (serious to a victim) things might have to go unforgiving.
    As a teen, a cousin was terribly rude and continually mean to me. I never deserved such harsh and cruel behaviors from this egotistical and very uncaring cousin. Always thought superior to others.
    Just awful.
    There have been a few times of communication. I’ve limited the degree of small talk. On the other hand, the cousin has tried to have a relationship.
    For myself, it works best to ignore the cousin.
    Much easier on my part not to contribute anything.

  5. Oh Brenda,
    this is so spot on! A few years ago, I lost my step-daughter to her alcoholism. We were unaware of her addiction; because she lived several states away. We would see her twice a year and never had a clue. When she ended up in the hospital, we were told the truth by her doctor! I will never forget him saying this was her third catastrophic alcolholic event in eight months! The family rallied around her and tried to give support. Her half sister moved her in to her home. My husband and I moved our travel trailer down so we could help take her to AA and her numerous doctor’s apptmts. She needed a liver transplant. Sadly, she wasn’t invested into saving her own life. The whole family rearranged their lives; including changing jobs and homes to help her! We all gave everything and got nothing!

    1. I am so sorry for the loss of your step-daughter. As you found out the hard way, you can try to “help” someone through their addiction but helping an addict only works if THEY want to change. I lost my oldest son to addiction and I also have numerous friends who have lost children to addiction, too. Some of their stories are heartbreaking, where they lost all their money trying to help their child. But to say you gave everything and got nothing is counterproductive. You don’t help an addict – or anyone, for that matter – expecting to get something in return. When you help someone, it should be out of love and kindness and nothing else. If you expect something in return, your intentions are not pure and you’re only setting yourself up for hurt and disappointment. I hope that you find peace in knowing you did all you could do to help a loved one and that ultimately, it was not something you could control. Blessings and a big hug to you.

  6. Acceptance, and forgiveness are two powerful tools we can use to elevate the quality of life we have. A gift we are given to spare us some of the heart ache of our earthly life, if we refuse to use them they are as worthless as the rusted, broken tools that lie in the junk pile.

  7. Just because someone is gone doesn’t mean the relationship is finalized. We can still change and grow, looking at that relationship with fresh eyes and new skills. Try speaking your truth to an empty chair and imagining that person is sitting there. You can speak to them without fear and maybe release some of the pain they have caused you.

  8. I never heard it described this way but you hit the nail on the head. Anger, now when a person is still here, or after they have passed always seems to hurt us more than them. As I get older I am beginning to realize why forgiveness is so important — it is a blessing for us more than for the person forgiven.

  9. You hit this one right on the head this morning! I’d love to be able to put those unresolved issues in a box and address it ‘return to sender’.

  10. How well I know those feelings. Somehow death doesn’t change much–afterward they are remembered for how terrible they were. Somehow old dragons don’t change over time and even when they are gone it doesn’t improve your memory of them. They are just who they are. Try not to dwell on them and go on with your life.

  11. This is well written Brenda. I think it is a good message that any unresolved issues should be handled before it is no longer an option. You are so right when someone dies the anger does not die with them it lingers and stay with you. I think if you resolve conflicts and feelings before someone passes it then it is easier to let go after someone dies. Have a good day today.

  12. Brenda,
    This post struck me at my core. Thank you for putting an all too familiar feeling into words. I know this fits for many.

    Marilynn

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