The Anger and the Guilt I can Handle - It's the 'Missing Her' I Can't Stand

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Hugh and Dr. S. J. Pickens

The Anger and the Guilt I can Handle - It's the 'Missing Her' I Can't Stand

by Hugh Pickens

June 1, 2018

I was messaging with someone a few days ago who had also recently lost someone and they asked me how I had coped with the situation. Here's what I told them.

This is pretty raw.

Don't read it if you don't want to experience some strong emotions.

Ok, first there is the anger. The irrational anger at the abandonment. Why did you leave me. What did I do wrong? I'm so angry at you for leaving me.

Then there is the guilt. What could I have done differently so this didn't have to happen. It's all my fault. I could have done this or this or this and you would still be alive.

Both the anger and the guilt are the result of the feeling of powerlessness every human being feels when he confronts the reality of his own death or the death of a lover.

The anger and the guilt are coping mechanisms. The reality of the situation is too awful to understand and face, so we substitute other strong emotions (anger, guilt) to distract us from the pain we are feeling.

Sometimes you just have to cry. Sometimes that's the only way to get it out.

I'm over the anger and guilt. I've processed those. I understand them. That's the copying mechanism my mind tries to use to take my mind off the feeling of powerlessness in confronting the ultimate reality of death.

At this point, what I am feeling is primarily loss. I miss her. I spent 33 years with her. She knew me. She loved me anyway. I don't have my best friend to talk to anymore and I never will again. I would give anything to have her back again.

Sometimes I don't want to get out of bed in the morning. I hear a voice saying "I wish I was dead. I wish I was dead. I wanna be dead." over and over again. But I force myself up and generally I have found that those first few minutes of the day are the hardest after I have awoken from dreaming about her. If I can just make myself get up, I can get through the day.

That's what works for me. Sometimes I have a relapse or a trigger and I relive the anger and guilt but I can always get back from that. I know how to handle that now. It re-occurs every few weeks or months and they are diminishing in intensity.

I think there is a half-life to pain. Do you know about radiation and nuclear isotopes? That's the physicist in me talking. I think that pain has a half life. After a year you have 100 units of pain, after two years maybe 50 units, after 3 years maybe 25 units.

The pain never really disappears entirely but it diminishes and you can learn to live with it.

The trouble is that you have to figure all this out for yourself. Somebody can tell you these things but it doesn't "take" unless you ask yourself the hard questions and figure them out for yourself. Ask yourself "Why am I angry at my lover. Why do I feel guilty for something over which I had no control?" Ask yourself these questions and figure it out for yourself.


About the Author

Hugh and Dr. S. J. Pickens
Dr. Pickens married Hugh Pickens on December 24, 1984 with whom she recently celebrated 32 years of marriage.

Hugh Pickens (Po-Hi '67) is a physicist who has explored for oil in the Amazon jungle, commissioned microwave communications systems across the empty quarter of Saudi Arabia, and built satellite control stations for Goddard Space Flight Center in Australia, Antarctica, Guam, and other locations around the world. Retired in 1999, Pickens and his wife of 33 years moved from Baltimore back to his hometown of Ponca City, Oklahoma in 2005 where he cultivates his square foot garden, mows seven acres of lawn, writes about local history, photographs events at the Poncan Theatre, produces the annual Oklahoma Pride series with his wife at Ponca Playhouse, and recently sponsored the first formal dinner in the Marland Mansion in 75 years. Pickens is presently in the process of planning the construction of an Art Museum in Northern Oklahoma. Pickens can be contacted at

Pickens' Publishing

In 1996, Pickens edited and published My Life In Review: Have I Been Lucky of What?, the memoirs of Jack Crandall, professor of history at SUNY Brockport. Since 2001 Pickens has edited and published “Peace Corps Online,” serving over one million monthly pageviews. Pickens' other writing includes contributing over 2,000 stories to “Slashdot: News for Nerds,” and articles for Wikipedia, and “Ponca City, We Love You”. Pickens has written the following articles available on his wiki at Research and Ideas.



Science and Technology

Business and Investing

Ponca City, Oklahoma

Pickens Museum


Peace Corps Writing


Phillips 66

Conoco and Phillips 66 announced on November 18, 2001 that their boards of directors had unanimously approved a definitive agreement for a "merger of equals". The merged company, ConocoPhillips, became the third-largest integrated U.S. energy company based on market capitalization and oil and gas reserves and production. On November 11, 2011 ConocoPhillips announced that Phillips 66 would be the name of a new independent oil and gasoline refining and marketing firm, created as ConocoPhillips split into two companies. ConocoPhillips kept the current name of the company and concentrated on oil exploration and production side while Phillips 66 included refining, marketing, midstream, and chemical portions of the company. Photo: Hugh Pickens all rights reserved.

For nearly 100 years oil refining has provided the bedrock of Ponca City's local economy and shaped the character of our community. Today the Ponca City Refinery is the best run and most profitable of Phillips 66's fifteen worldwide refineries. The purpose of this collection of reports is to provide a comprehensive overview of Phillips 66's business that documents and explains the company's business strategy and execution of that strategy.

Safety, Environment, Legal


Strategic and Financial

Business Segments

Stock Market


Refining Business Segment

Increasing Profitability in Refining Business Segment

Detailed Look at Ponca City Refinery

Other Phillips Refineries

Other Locations

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