DGYAB Stage 2: Anger
Alice traveled a lot for work. So much, that she felt more comfortable in a hotel than she did in her own home. Her husband struggled with substance abuse in the past, but he’d told her he had it under control.
She had another assignment in Boston, and would only be gone for a few days. She’d convinced herself that everything would be fine…but it wasn’t. She returned home to find her husband sprawled across the bathroom floor, needle still in his arm.
She’d kept her voice calm during the phone call that she made to the mortuary, explaining what had happened in a slow monotone voice. I didn’t take the call, but I would be the one meeting with her. “She’s a pushy one. She doesn’t even seem upset.” This was what my coworker said to me.
This didn’t come as much of a surprise to me. I assumed Alice was just in her version of the fog, as most people usually are.
“Can I get you anything before we get started?” I asked her.
“You can get to the point, so I can get the f**k out of here."
That caught me off guard. I was wrong. Alice wasn’t in the fog.
Alice was pissed.
For those of you who don’t know me personally, during stressful times, my default setting has almost always been anger. It’s comforting. It’s something I can control. It’s my own personal defense mechanism.
Naturally, when I serve families who are working through anger, I get it. It’s a fire I understand.
“Of course, I just have a few things to go over with you, and you won’t have to look at me any more today. If you need a break, let me know, and we can stop.”
I sped through most of the paperwork as quickly as I could, and soon after, the contracts were signed and she paid the balance. It was time for her to go. She stopped just before we reached the door, and turned to me.
“You’re just doing your job. I’m sorry for being rude to you. It’s not your fault. I just hate that he pushed me into having to do this. I hate that so many people are expecting me to be sad, and I am sad. Really, I am. But more than anything, I’m furious. How can you miss someone so much and hate them at the same time?”
“A really horrible thing happened to you. Never apologize for processing it, regardless of how it may look to other people. ”
She asked me if she could hug me, and I said yes.
She then walked out of the office, got into her car, and drove away.
I never saw her again after that. We emailed, mostly, and I ended up mailing her husband’s cremated remains to his mother.
I think about Alice a lot. I wonder if she ever found peace. I wonder if she’s still searching.
I know I am.