The deceased, relatives, the doctor, the spouse, oneself, close friends, those who had the most recent contact…
These are just some of the people we can be angry with after a death. Following a suicide, these feelings of anger can be even more intense.
Is it wrong to feel angry after a physical death? How about following other kinds of death that bring grief? Is anger sinful after the death of a dream for a child who turns away from the Lord into an ungodly lifestyle? How about after the death of a marriage? Death of the desire for optimal health?
Although prolonged anger is unhealthy—both emotionally and spiritually–I’ve learned if I feel angry, I need to admit it. If I stuff anger down, then I get in trouble later–something I know from experience.
As I’m going through suicide grief, I’m determined to admit and even journal my true feelings with a goal of “Be angry and sin not.” (See Psalm 4:4) To sin with anger would be to allow it to dictate my thoughts, words, and actions–to let it lead me into negative thinking, saying unkind words, acting in ungodly ways.
The key to accomplishing the goal of being angry without sinning is to bring my angry feelings to the Lord. Psalm 62:8 instructs:
…Pour your hearts out to him, for God is our refuge.
As I pour my heart out to God—including my angry feelings—He calms me.
And He’s given me a feeling in my heart to replace anger. That feeling is compassion.
My goal is to be full of compassion—like the Lord (see James 5:11b) and to reach out as He directs toward those I might be tempted to stay angry with–including myself.
Years ago when I returned to the mental health field, I looked up the word compassion since I knew I needed more of it. I read:
Sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.
Today I’m thinking of the doctor who saw my loved one on the day of his death. At first I was angry at him for not discerning that his patient was in such a desperate frame of mind. But as I embrace compassion, I realize he must be grieving as well. How awful that must be for a doctor—to lose a patient to suicide. The thought comes, “How can I alleviate his distress?”
Lord, shall I write him a letter thanking him for the care he gave my family member and letting him know I’m praying for him?”
What I want and what I believe the Lord wants is for compassion and not anger to dictate my heart.
Do you want the same?