The Generation Game: Anger and Denial Grieving a Lost Opportunity

Having a plan is great.  I had one two weeks ago.  I did, I swear.  Had a plan for this post, too.  Something about entitlement culture.  After Grief and Depression teamed up to cause a crying jag in the shower, well…

That’s pretty much what happened to this blog, and my YouTube channel.  I may get a YouTube video out this week, because I’ve got a new idea for some material, but today, this post may ramble a bit.

See, we had a death in the family, and I’ve been angry the last week since the news.  In fact, I’ve spent parts of the last several days livid for no perceptible reason.  See, as of September 21st, I no longer have living grandparents that I share blood with.  None.  And I barely knew the grandfather who just crossed the veil.  Most of the deaths in my family have not been great cause for full life stop.

Frankly, I’d be less than surprised if some members of my family see me as a bit cold because my view of death is rather clinical.  It’s a part of life that is inevitable, sometimes sooner, sometimes later.

This grandfather’s passing came with quite the unexpected learning curve regarding grief, depression, family unity, and lost opportunity, as well as generational responsibility.  If the rest of this post rambles, bear with me, since I’m working through a lot.  I’m working through it here in the hopes it may help someone other than just me.

Grief In Masquerade

Can anyone see what’s behind my eyes?

Not until this morning did I recognize it myself.  We’re experts at deceiving ourselves when we want to be.  Actually I just saw a fantastic documentary on that very subject.  (Dis)Honesty: The Truth About Lies.  Check it out on Netflix.  Fascinating stuff.  Anyway, I woke up this morning, positively ready to give up on the day upon sitting up, and I may have uttered some ungentlemanly words, the string of which ended in Depression.  My darling husband then pointedly asked if I wasn’t mislabeling Grief as Depression.

I’m not thrilled when other people are right.

But he was, and I started looking at this past week in a different light.

See, I’m not grieving my grandfather’s death.  Not really.  Perhaps to some of you, that seems cold-hearted, but I can’t genuinely grieve a man I never had the chance to know.  And I’m grieving the fact that I didn’t have that chance.  If memory serves, there are supposedly five stages of Grief, right?  Let me hop to the all-knowing Google Machine, and together we’ll take stock of what’s going on inside this skull full of violet embers.


Which one is yours?
Which one is yours?

Thinking back to my psychology class in high school, I remember learning these as five neat little steps that happen when some grand tragedy occurs.  You may now point and laugh at high school me’s naïveté.  It’s okay.  I won’t be offended.  Really.  I’ve also though this past week that my own grief was a resurgence of Major Depressive Disorder.  While circumstances aren’t helping, it’s only a small sliver of what’s really going on.

Lost Opportunity & Generational Responsibility

I mentioned these earlier, and by now, I’m sure you’re wondering what the heck I’m talking about.  The lost opportunity is quite simple.  I don’t know my father’s family well.  A few of them know the bits of me that were around as a kid, but we’ve lost a large amount of contact due to familial circumstances it’s inappropriate to dwell on in this blog.  Suffice it to say a divorce was involved, and it was not one of those “nice” divorces where the parents get along fine after the fact.

(Those of you typing requests for details on who to blame in the comments, please hit the Backspace now, or expect your comment not to show up.  Thanks.  I won’t assign blame to anyone on such a public forum, and try not to do so even in private.)

The end results were my parents living across the country from one another after several years of attempting to make a joint custody agreement work.  We didn’t see our father’s family during the summer, and I haven’t seen that line of blood kin in at least nine years.  That is the heaviest loss I mourn.

So what is Generational Responsibility?

Well…it’s part of

The Generation Game

The Generations game is like a complex game of Telephone…with some rules.

Each family plays with a different set of Generation Game rules, just like each phone in the picture functions with a different set of wiring and different technology.  Not only does each family play with a different set, each generation is given an altered version of the set their family owns (complete with annotated house rules penciled in the margins.)

Every version then gets further annotated as successive generations take the rules of their set, alter them to suit their own parenting styles (or not parenting), beliefs about life, relationships with spouses or life-partners, and cultural contexts.

The responsibility of each generation is not to keep these notations from being made in the rule book.  No one can stop this.  The responsibility of each previous generation is to do their best to prepare future generations to understand how annotating this rule book can benefit the generation after them.  Sometimes, people toss the game entirely, and try to fly blind, only to realize they memorized a broken set of rules, a bit like the actual game Telephone.

The ones who suffer most are the children.  It doesn’t matter how or who is to blame.  Tearing apart a family leaves a lasting impression on a child.  Something that, perhaps at an instinctive level, is held immutable for small children (that their parents are inseparable, that family never dies) is ruptured and corroded with pain, anguish, and despair.  And sometimes that doesn’t show itself until a situation like the one I find myself in, where I’ve lost blood kin I never truly knew because somehow, someone threw the Generation Game away.

I’m just hoping someone found the set again, and it sounds like they have.

4 thoughts on “The Generation Game: Anger and Denial Grieving a Lost Opportunity”

    1. Forward it to whomever you feel the need. My blog is public for a reason (though not, of course, public property ;). )

  1. Interesting. I’ve had to give myself credit a lot lately. Telling myself that each generation is only trying to be better than the last generation, not competively, but more let’s try to be an impriver generation learning from our parents mistakes. I told my husband’s grandmother in August that her family is blessed with a patience I’m still trying to achieve. But I should be able to give myself credit for, at least, having more patience than I remember my parents having.
    I’m sorry you’re going through this. It sucks. Someday, we’ll get answers. And we can hope those answers will be better than we’ve imagined.

    1. I believe every generation, as a whole, is trying to move past the mistakes of the one before. And every time we succeed in some respects, often spectacularly, and in others we create mistakes for the next generation to overcome. It’s the nature of the Generation Game, and the nature of being human.

      Also, thank you for the kind words. It’s true, my life is a bit rough right now, but I’ll not only survive, but thrive through it. It’s exchanges like this that keep me stocked in hope.

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