When Sorrow Shifts to Anger

Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

Back in September, I wrote a post about times when I get tugged back into an old familiar pain. It could be triggered by a photo I see on social media or by meeting someone who reminds me of someone who’s caused me hurt. Something about the photo or the person tugs me back into an old familiar pain. I feel a sting and a wave of grief washes over me.

A painful event happened this weekend that in the past would have caused a wave of sorrow. But this time, what I felt was anger. What I saw caused me to raise both middle fingers in the air, which were accompanied by several slightly audible f-bombs.

I should note, I didn’t express this to the person directly. I ducked into the bathroom first.

Is this progress? Or does this mean I’ve taken a step backwards?

When I read about the 5 stages of grief–denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance–I seem to be going through them out of order.

What does this mean? I don’t know.

What I know for sure is that this time the event didn’t feel like a stab to the heart. It felt like a slap across the face. It was a different type of pain and I had a different type of reaction.

In my previous post, I thought I’d be ready to take on the feeling that arose when something like this happened. But I wasn’t. I was taken by surprise by my strong reaction.

As I ponder this, many questions arise. Will I ever stop reacting to these types of events? Will I ever see something like this and feel nothing? Shrug my shoulders and say “whatever”? Not a passive-aggressive whatever–a whatever with hidden pain behind it–but a true whatever where none of it matters to me anymore?

Is that what acceptance will feel like? And if so, will that day ever arrive?

I honestly don’t know. I wish I had answers–some words of wisdom–but at the present moment, I got nothin’.

So I’m asking for help on this one. Any insights or ideas you’d be willing to share would be greatly appreciated.

a curious firefly, © 2021

11 thoughts on “When Sorrow Shifts to Anger

  1. I think it’s a good sign that at least you had a different reaction than you normally do, a sign of things changing. it’s all baby steps and a process like this is forward, backward, and sideways, as you work your way through it, no straight path.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m so glad. I always explain this to parents of young children I teach, there is no straight path when children are working on change or development, it is all over the place in the process, and that is normal.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey firefly – I think acceptance means learning to accept your reaction whatever that may be – which changes for all of us, all of the time. Acceptance doesn’t mean you don’t have a reaction, simply that you’re comfortable with/compassionate toward your reactions. I’m not really sure there is always such a set pattern to processing grief. We all deal with it differently and in our own time. Either way, I wouldn’t ruminate on this too much. Wishing you well firefly 🙏

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi AP2! Thanks for your thoughtful message. You’ve given me lots to chew on. I’m learning to accept the present moment, but hadn’t put it to practice with accepting my reactions to those moments, if that makes sense. And you’re right—I often overthink things. Thanks for reading and your insights. Much appreciated. Wishing you well too. 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I overthink everything – I think part of the problem I’ve had historically is giving a narrative to my emotions when I should have simply let them come and go. Practising acceptance is hard but worth the effort. Take it easy firefly

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello dear friend. I have had this type of thing happen. It’s easier if you just accept that it happens instead of beating yourself up about it. There’s no neat way to move through grief. Let’s talk/walk. I find it usually helps to talk to a friend when hard things come up. Once you’ve talked it out, it usually doesn’t hit as hard the next time. Jxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Julie, my friend! Thanks for reading and for your message. You’re right—there’s no neat way to move through it. It’s all kinda messy, yes?? I feel better about the whole thing today, but I’d certainly welcome a walk/talk. 🙂


  4. The stages of grief are not meant to go in any order, and we don’t just go through them one time. We circle and cycle through them. Rinse and repeat. I think acceptance doesn’t mean you are okay with the situation. It means you’ve accepted that you can’t change it. Naming the feeling and acknowledging it is all you are expected to do. You are amazing for taking on this work. It is hard stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I relate to what you’re going through so much. And the questions. When I do guided meditation, we are always encouraged to observe our feelings without judgment. “Oh, I felt that and it was a little different than in the past.” And then I let it go. I’m trusting that as I do the work of compassion with myself, I find more space between reactions. I’m not sure I will ever be done. Some of it is deep in there, but I don’t judge myself anymore. And that’s a win♥️it sounds like you are on the same path and I wish you well!

    Liked by 1 person

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