A lifelong friend of mine passed away last week. At first I felt numb. Then I felt sadness and loss. I accepted the condolences. I grieved.
And now I feel angry.
We are uncomfortable with feeling anger in general, and especially uncomfortable with feeling angry at someone who has died. It doesn’t seem right, or “seemly.”
I guess the anger is one step in the process, on the path of acceptance and letting go. It must be felt.
It’s awkward, because you can’t publicly express your anger because “people will think you’re a bad person.” And, what is the famous saying? “Don’t speak ill of the dead.”
He was my friend, I cherish my memories, but he was cruel to the people who loved him. That’s all I’ll say. It’s so uncomfortable to admit these things and still try to grieve.
Life is messy, emotions are messy. That’s what makes us human. So I wanted to share my messiness with you today. The glorious stew of feelings. We are not perfect.
We only need to do two things in life. The first, via the Dalai Lama, is to show compassion. That’s the most important thing, he says. Compassion.
And the second, is to live in the present. The present is all we have.
I’ve let go of my anger now. I accepted it, I felt it and I have forgiven him. Forgiving is not about saying, “what he did was okay.” Forgiveness is about letting go of your anger.
I can now grieve again and celebrate the good of his life. Each death puts a new hole in the heart. The only thing I can do is fill it with gratitude — for being a loving parent, friend and teacher, for helping my friends and students reach their dreams. To live beautifully and creatively. To inspire hope and goodness.
I wish you compassion and presence. Carry on!
P.S. The reason I decided to write this piece is because I know from writing that my feelings are universal, that you have felt these things too. Nothing is a secret.