I find myself feeling anger towards my lost parent because I've found out information I didn't know about. Why?


Therapist Answer and Transcription

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Hi, I’m Dr. Kevin Skinner. I’m a licensed marriage and family therapist. And I want to thank you for asking your question here on Brighter Mornings. Your question is related to finding yourself feeling anger towards your lost parent, you find yourself discovering more and more about their life that they didn’t tell you about and find you’re finding yourself more angry.

Let me address this idea because sometimes we find ourselves discovering information about our parents or other people after they’re gone and it’s wait, why didn’t they tell me this? Or, why did they keep that a secret? Now this is not uncommon, unfortunately, but we find a lot of people feel like the shame of their behaviors, they don’t want people to know or judge them, in particular, the people who they care the most about. In this case, I would want to offer just a couple of thoughts related to what you could do to work through those emotions.

First of all, we know that as you feel anger, you might also feel a little bit ashamed because your parent’s gone and why do I, why am I angry at my dead parent?

But I think it’s normal as you go through your emotions to give respect to those feelings and honor them. And so what’s what I call giving a voice to the emotion or to the, in this situation, the anger. So one way to give a voice to that is to write a letter to them about what that information means to you and what it has meant to you now that you know it.

And I want you to imagine that you were sharing that information with them. Like, why didn’t we talk about this? And allow yourself just to flow in that emotion and let it out. That important concept is something that a lot of people are afraid to do because they don’t want to make a parent feel bad.

Your parents gone, but your emotions aren’t and your emotions towards what you discovered are also important. So we have to give it a voice. We need to honor those feelings. And if you write it in a letter, it’s one way to process through it. You might shred it or you might read it and then shred it. But the idea is to let it out, give it a voice that’s concept number one.

Number two actually has to do with thinking about your parents in a different way. Obviously, that information has changed how you’ve made me feel about your parents. I also encourage you to think about what drove them to do, or to hide that information? What were they afraid of and what concerns they have and did they try to repair the damage that they had done? Just, they didn’t talk about what they had done.

And with these are things that I would encourage you to think through because many times when I talk with people, the more they analyze or look at someone who’s hurt them they begin to realize that they too have a story. Now, I don’t know what your parents’ story was and why they did what they did. But everyone has a story. Sometimes those stories don’t make any sense to us. Sometimes the more information we get about them, we realize, Oh, they did that because grandpa did that and great grandma or grandpa did that and they felt this way.

And so we begin to have a little bit more in some cases, not always, we have a little bit more compassion or empathy for what their life was like. Sometimes that can happen. Sometimes it can’t. In your case, I don’t know, but I invite you to think through their story and maybe why they hid that information. It doesn’t justify it, but it might help you have more understanding.

Anyway, I hope this is helpful to you. And if you have further questions, feel free to ask them here on Brighter Mornings.

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