Friday, August 8, 2008


The last comment I read was the following:

Bless you for being an example. I know that "suffering is part of the human experience" and I know that I too will face trials that may bring the same kind of unimaginable heartache that you've experienced....I fear that I'll be angry with God. I hope that I'm strong enough to see His Plan. Do you every feel angry?

God's Blessings to you!

Ann in Missouri 

Thank you for the question Ann. I would like to respond to this publicly. 

As a senior in high school I remember a seminary lesson we had on anger. I think we were discussing Jesus in the New Testament and his righteous indignation. I don't remember the whole lesson. I just remember my teacher Bro. Strobelt asserting that we can choose whether we get angry or not. Being the head strong opinionated know it all I was (and sometimes still am), I took him to task on this assertion.

"You can choose how you feel! You can't control your emotions," I said. "Emotions just come to you and they are natural and there is nothing wrong with feeling a certain way." I never took a psych class but I would guess they would teach something like this in more eloquent and academic terms.

He stood his ground firmly. "You can control how you feel. You can master your own emotions and tame the natural man," he said. He then gave the example of how if someone does something mean to you, you have a choice. You can choose to feel hurt or you can choose to feel angry. Most people don't like feeling the hurt. Given the choice most humans choose anger because it is easier than the hurt. But you can choose to feel hurt instead and the anger will leave if you make that choice.

That was his basic argument, if not his exact words (it has been some years since then.) I was still doubtful about his theory. Nonetheless, I pondered his assertion and decided to try his theory out. Over the next few years I thought of this lesson each time I felt angry. Time after time, I found that really I was hurt and letting anger take over so I wouldn't have to feel the hurt. I made a conscious effort to let myself feel the hurt instead of the anger. Amazingly, it worked--almost without fail. I really can't remember the last time I was really angry. (Okay maybe I can -- my kids can get me angry or at least frustrated, or at least they used to be able to before -- that is a subject for another post)

Now to answer the question of the comment. I know anger is one of the five steps of grief and it is very common for people to feel angry. I am not saying that it is wrong to feel that emotion as a part of grief. But I think all these years of practicing being hurt rather than angry have helped me skip over that part of the grief process. 

In short, No. I have never for a moment felt angry at anyone. Not anyone in my family, not Camille, not the situation, and certainly not at God. I had a moment the first night after the accident when Camille was in the hospital where I felt a fierce fighting feeling. I was praying with a fierceness I never had before, willing with my whole soul that she would be made well. But I wouldn't call that feeling anger. 

My life has been so blessed. Even taking this trial into account I am so incredibly in the debt of the Lord. I know where I stand before the Lord so there is no anger in my heart. 

I think of Mary, the mother of the Savior. She was so young when she was told she was going to have a child. This news rocked her world and put the whole of her future happiness in jeopardy. This was a great blessing wrapped in a terrifying trial. My situation is not much different in that aspect. There are great blessings in the midst of this incredibly painful trial. 

Even as early as my time in the hospital with Camille before we knew whether or not Camille would live, I felt to echo the wise words of mother-to-be Mary, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." Luke 1:38Image


Evs & The Hubby said...

Thanks for posting this. I have struggled this last year with a lot of hurt and frustration over a situation that continues to present itself and actions that are unkind and selfish. Mike constantly tells me to not let it get to me and be stronger and slowly I am becoming stronger but it isn't easy. It really is true that you can be angry or hurt and being hurt leads me to peace a lot sooner than anger does.

Thank you for being you!

Anonymous said...

I really needed to hear this post today. I am pretty good at not getting angry, except for the kids, and I have often wondered why. I think I naturally feel hurt over anger in most cases. I sometimes try to feel angry to help myself heal. I have sometimes wondered if I can be emotionally void because of this. From time to time I do get angry. This happened to me about 30 minutes ago and then choose to just let it go. I was angry and I hate the feeling of anger. I don't like the person I become when I am angry.

So, why did I need to hear this??? Well, a few reasons. For starters, I became angry about Camille. For awhile it really upset me. I had to let it go because I didn't want to be consumed by it. I have been curious about your level of anger.

I have fought feeling of anger because of the current situation I am. Being divorced is challenging and there are days I start to feel angry. I didn't want to be here in my life. I really didn't want to have my children go through what I experienced as a child. I was positive I would not get a divorce. My husband took advantage of that. He knew (or thought) I would never leave.

So, reading this post made me realize that you are completely right about this. I have a choice and next time anger comes screaming in, I will know better how to handle it.

I read every word of your posts. There are no words for my gratitude. Thank you just doesn't seem to quite explain how much I appreciate your words.

The Christensens said...

I am a friend of Sunni and John Heywood. I cam across your blog through her sisters. Anyway...I am bawling. I have a daughter Camille who was born Feb 26th 2007. I don't know many Camille's so it caught my attention. I read a few post back when you talked about being more patient with your kids and taking time to enjoy them more. I needed that today. My 3 girls have been sick for 4 days and I was getting fed up and tired. THANK YOU for you comments and your story.

Jennifer said...

I am a new reader to your blog, and have been...what is it you call it? a silent stalker so far. :) My daughter told me about your amazing writings, and I'm not sure where she heard, but the news seems to be spreading!

You are an inspiration!! I agree with everything you have said about how God wouldn't have let Camille die if it hadn't been her time to go, and if it hadn't been the accident it was, it could have been something worse. What a blessing to know that she was such an angel, she didn't need to prove herself here on earth......though I realize that doesn't make it easy to have to give her up (temporarily!)so early in life.

You have helped so many who have experienced something similar, and there are probably many others who will face challenges in the future, and will be able to reach back and remember your example and your insight.

I wanted to comment about the angry stage of the grief process. Years ago, my brother committed suicide. I definitely went through a full blown grief process. It was a very dark period in my life. However, like you, I didn't feel angry at anyone. I thought I had skipped over that stage. But I did feel really irritable and ornery at times, like a very bad case of PMS, but it wasn't that time of the month! I was surprised (and relieved!) to read one day that for some people, that is the angry stage. Some silly little thing that wouldn't normally bother you, can make you fly off the handle, and you think you're losing your mind! I was relieved to know that I wasn't, that for me, it was the angry stage. I just wanted to share that with you in case you ever experience the same thing. For me, it brought great comfort to know that my sometimes out-of-control emotions were a very normal part of the grief process!

Thank you so much for turning a tragedy that would make many bitter, into a beautiful way of bringing comfort and inspiration to others. I'm sure Camille is very proud of her Mommy and family!!!

Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blog since just after Camille's accident- my heart felt condolences.
I have watched and tried to help as many friends and family have gone through great struggle and heart break. From a sister whose temple marriage ended in her ex's jail sentence and excommunication to several girlfriends being widowed in their 20s. One friend in particular I really tried to be there for was widowed four months after she was married and expecting her first baby. I talked to her almost every day that first year and let her say anything she needed to say. There were plenty of days when she was angry. She was mad at her husband (he died in a 3 wheeler accident), and even at God. My opinion is that Jesus Christ came to earth to be our example and also to experience all things- he of course did not sin, but experienced the pain, sorrow, consequences and I believe felt all the emotions through the beautiful act of the Atonement. He understands everything we go through. When my friend was angry I always encouraged her that it was OK to be mad, just don't be mad forever. Start again tomorrow. It's all part of the grieving process.

Thank you so much for your wisdom and letting us see God's tender mercies helping you through this rough road.

Stephanie in Salem

noorda notebook said...

that rocked. your posts are always so uplifting and make me want to be a better person.

i hope you don't mind if i add something to the awesome things you've already written. a few years ago i read the peacegiver by james ferell. for me it was truly life changing. when i begin to feel angry i usually reread the book because i know i've forgotten something. i've read it many times :) the book talks about anger and forgiveness in a way that i never had thought of before. its words rang so true to me and just made me see life and relationships so differently. ferell's institute, the arbinger institute, followed up the peacegiver with leadership & self-deception and then the anatomy of peace. both amazing and talk about subjects along the same lines as peacegiver. (i have them if anyone wants to borrow)

you can't really feel peace if there's any anger in your heart, let alone the spirit. thanks for the good reminder, steph.


Brittany Osborn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brittany Osborn said...

Stephanie - My friend from childhood just had a baby who needs a heart transplant. After reading that you had used your loss to help another baby live I thought her story might interest you. I have been praying both for your family, the Kunz family, and for sweet baby Mia.

Tara said...

I'm sure it is crazy to have so many people that you may not know, feel like they know you so well. Thank you for opening yourself up to all of us. You have touched my life...

I have a daughter just a few months younger than Camille and I won't pretend that I know what you are going through, but I can imagine. It makes me hold her a little longer at night before I put her to bed. Sometimes, as I hold her, I feel almost guilty as I think of how your arms must ache. I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you again for letting us peek inside your world. I am reminded everyday to cherish the moments in life.

Tara in Clovis, Ca

Charee B Mcclellan said...

My friend just wrote a write up about your blog and I thought that I would take a minute or two and check it out. Well and hour or so later, I think I'm done for the night. We have just had a death in the family and the feelings are still very very painful. Though the stories are very different, I am grateful for your positive and sweet words. Thank you for sharing, I have enjoyed!!

Adam and Megan's Mom said...

I have to tell you that although you are the one who has suffered such a huge loss, I come to your blog to feel better and to renew my soul. THANK YOU for your posts. Your faith gives me hope.

Heidi said...

Oh what a beautiful post! I had never heard that about choosing hurt or anger. I look forward to trying that out.

I don't remember the steps of grief, but I was surprised when I felt anger after my miscarriage (and that it wasn't toward anyone in particular, but just the medical field in general). It wasn't for very long, but it still caught me off guard and I was glad when I got over it.

Calvin Family said...

My sister directed me to your blog & I have been a lurker for a while now. :) My family lives in Henderson & I actually grew up in Irvine with The Clayton Family. Everytime I read your posts I am brought to tears. The spirit I feel from your testimony is overwhelming. Thank you!

munyer jerk chicken said...

hola amiga. you hit it right on the nail. i'm now looking back at the things that have made me angry most recently and i'm realizing that... well, you're right. i also remember that as a teacher, i used to teach my kids to "ACT" instead of "REACT". i think it's a similar principle. thanks for the reminder.

FrankNApril said...

I love your blog!
I really wish you could come to our once a month meetings! It is for Mother's who grieve. you are inspiring to everyone! Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

As others have mentioned, thanks for this post. I have struggled with controlling my emotions, especially anger. My husband and I have known for some time that it would be quite a struggle for us to have children and after our first year of marriage, we decided to start seeing a specialist. We have been at it for several months now and are finally in the two week wait period until we find out if we'll soon be blessed with a little miracle.

Sometimes I wonder why...Why is this our lot? Why are there teenagers and women on drugs and unmarried women having babies right and left when my husband and I can't? We have a stable relationship and a good strong marriage and home and our arms and hearts ache for a baby. Sometimes I am tempted to be angry because of this.

But your post reminded me that I need not be angry. There are always worse things, and it reminded me to be grateful for how I have been blessed. Thank you for your daily posts. I am a new reader, but I look forward to them every day. I feel already that you are a friend and I am grateful for your insight. Have a wonderful day and give hugs to those kids of yours...they are such wonderful blessings.


Kelsi said...

I love your insight and wisdom! It really is our choice! We have a loving heavenly father who has given us agency, and part of that is being able to choose how we feel and react to every and all situations! It really is powerful when you think about it! I am so gald that you have the knowledge you do! What a blessing it is! You have the tools to assist you through this challenge! You are so special, and have assisted others in so many ways! Thanks for your daily wisdom and reminders!

On another note I thought of you when i was watching SYTYCD finally! I bet you were as excited as I was for Joshua to WIN! I am just sad it is over for a year!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. I am continually amazed by your insight. I never seem to remember these 'lessons' when I need them. I am pretty good about not getting offended easily, and instead of being angry, turn to hurt more often than not, also. However, I would like to ask you if you get the chance, to clarify more about how to not get so angry/frustrated with the kids. When they do things that get me frustrated, I know I should be able to control that, and am working on it. However, I don't see how being hurt about whatever they do could help. They aren't doing something that would 'hurt' me, but make me frustrated. I don't know if I'm explaining it very well, but just wondering if you have any words of wisdom, because it seems you have learned how to control this, and I would love to be able to also!

Thank you again for being so open, honest and real!

Catherine said...

If you are ever so inclined, I would love to know what you would write on the topic of "righteous indignation."

Anonymous said...

Once again you have put so elequently what I never could.

I have chosen the anger over the hurt because I fear the hurt would shatter me so badly you could never put me back together again. Anger I know how to deal with, I know how to channel it, and I know how to corral it. Hurt is a mystery, I don't know how to fix the hurt, so anger is always my first choice.

Maybe this is why I am stuck, because I can't "finish" grieving and until I do, the pain will always be a raw sore that will never form a scab until I deal with it.

I am, as always grateful for your wise counsel and will try harder in the future to deal with my grief appropriately.

Anonymous J