Many shared same feelings of loss, anger

When I sat down at this computer a week ago to write my column, I didn’t know what I would say. The words truly weren’t there; for a writer, that can be a scary thing.

So when the words about my emotions and the anger I felt at my father’s death started to come out, I didn’t even know if the column would make it into that day’s newspaper.

I was kind of harsh talking about how angry I was. Really, I just put all my emotions out there.

My editors told me the column was good and that they would run it, so I thought it at least passed the printable test.

I had no idea at the time the impact that column would have on loyal Tribune readers, my friends and family.

The first comment that made me realize this wasn’t just another column came from one of my childhood friends.

Her grandfather had died on Saturday — the second grandfather to die within six months’ time.

She sent me a text message around 6 p.m. that Tuesday evening.

“Just read your column ... thanks, I needed that this week. Tough losing so many loved ones this year. Love and hugs!”

I spoke with her on the phone a few hours later and was surprised at how much she related to my comments about anger.

She said that when her other grandfather died of Alzheimer’s disease earlier this year, she didn’t think about the anger that was deep down.

After reading my column, my friend started to talk about how angry she was with the disease and with losing her grandfather twice: once to the disease and a second time to death.

Now six months later, she was angry that she was losing a second grandfather, experiencing the pain of loss all over again. Never once did she mention anger at God or the caregivers who provided for both of her grandfathers in their last days.

Within the next few days, my Facebook wall was flooded with comments from friends and family who appreciated and understood the emotions I wrote about.

One of the most powerful messages came from a friend who lost her 29-year-old daughter to cancer a few years ago.

“We miss Megan every day, even though like you said, we know she is in a better place. I believe we have the right to be angry at this disease and how it affects so many lives; the ones fighting it and their loved ones.”

After reading so many of those comments, I realized the power I have as a newspaper writer, sharing with others the powerful emotions that comes along with losing someone you love.

There’s the pain of the loss that never goes away and the longing to see him or her just one more time.

There’s the anger at the disease or whatever circumstances it was that pulled him or her from the Earth.

There’s that selfish feeling that, while that person is in a better place now with no pain or suffering, we are left here to remember and feel the loss of his or her presence.

I know from talking with friends and family that those feelings will never really go away.

I’d like to hope, though, that as time goes on, things will get a bit easier, my emotions will calm a bit and I will be able to remember my father with less of a sense of pain and anger and more with feelings of pride and joy.

Shay Burk

Veteran Tribune reporter Shay Burk writes whatever is swirling around her mind each week. Read her columns on Tuesdays for her humorous thoughts on everyday life.

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