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BOTD 3/5/16 "Words Spoken In Anger" A Stevie Production

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David M. Katz

Words Spoken in Anger...
A Stevie Production

It is 1967 and your life has just been torn apart.

Your wife, and the mother of your ten year old son, Rodney, has recently died in a car accident and you are still in a state of shock.

She was driving her 1964 Malibu convertible - which lacked safety features like dual circuit brakes and seat belts - to work when the brakes failed as she took her normal exit from the freeway. She was killed instantly and the body was badly enough mutilated that the funeral service had to be closed casket.

Since then, Rodney has been, understandably, very upset... but you've noticed that he's been rejecting all attempts to comfort him; he's not said more than about ten words to you since the police informed him at his school on the day of the accident.

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Today, he sits down on the sofa beside you and tells you that he has something awful to tell you... and he's afraid you won't love him any more when he does... but he has to tell you anyway...

"Daddy... it's my fault that Mommy died... "

You start to tell him that mommy died in a car accident... and that he couldn't have had anything to do with it... he was ten miles away in school when it happened.

He interrupts you, and slowly, haltingly, it comes out...

Rodney and his mother had a big fight that morning before the boy left for school, and he stormed off in a rage afterward...

His last words to his mother were: "I hate you and I wish you were dead!"

He never saw her again...

What do you do now?

Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult.

David M. Katz

I will hug him up and try to explain how this was not his fault.

However, I think Rodney could benefit from some professional counseling and I will set that up. (I might need some sessions myself.)

Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult.

Pi Beta

Once his and my tears stop flowing as they surely will since I will break down and will surely be joined by him, we'll have a cuddle and I'll have a long think.

Counselling then was probably in its infancy if that so I doubt I'll even think of that, though I may well call on my church's minister or even our doctor. W

Unfortunately words spoken can never be retracted and it's likely neither Rodney nor I will ever completely get over this. I think the way forward that I would suggest to Rodney will be to suggest that he writes a letter to his mother telling her everything that is in his heart, all his regrets and his heartfelt apology which we'll then take to the graveside. There I think there will be three possibilities - bury it in the grave, attach the letter to a helium filled balloon and let it float upwards and out of sight or set fire to it and watch the smoke rise up into the heavens.

I think I will also need to ensure that his teachers are aware of this. Depending upon her personality, I may also talk this through with his maternal grandmother and hope she will be supportive rather than critical.

Many children (and adults) have said things like this that they regret and feel that they cannot easily live with the guilt of never having either had the opportunity to apologise - or, more commonly, never got round to apologising. It is quite common for this to come up in conversation when I'm discussing arrangements for a funeral and that I'll often refer to within the address - the "if only" syndrome.


I mostly agree with David and Pi. I will tell Rodney that we can't wish bad things (or good things) to happen. I'll make sure to point out that, had the accident not happened, he and his mom would have surely made up. I don't think he'll believe me, at least not then. I agree that counseling is in order, even in 1967.

When I was still married, our best friends lived across the street. The wife developed breast cancer and died. Her oldest then was 14, and went to a private parochial school. After his mother died, he came to me in tears, telling me that his clergy person had told him that his mother had died because "he didn't pray hard enough". I was livid. It's been over 20 years, and I still am.


Editor Extraordinaire
I can't add anything to the good suggestions already made.



I consider Pi has produced a really excellent answer.

Sadly Rodney will have to live with his last words even when he comes to realise they had nothing to do with his mother's death.

I think I'll need to keep a close eye on him in case he develops any thoughts of going to join her in order that he can apologise.


I think Rodney and I will have a long talk about how to deal with being angry, and saying things you don't mean. Then I'll assure him his mom was hurt by his words, but understood that she knew he really didn't mean them. Then he and I will have a long prayer together, so that he can apologize. Then we'll read in the Bible a while, so he can know his prayer was heard and that he's been forgiven. And then we'll do something to help stress his happy memories with his mother.

"In the end, it's just a story. But if you ask me, it's all true."


I like Jack think that first Rodney has to understand that at times we all say things in anger that we regret in the cold light of day especially in the family and nothing Rodney said had anything to do with the accident. His mother and I had rows and diagreements and overcame them . What is in Rodneys heart is what counts. I think I need to see if thee is a favourite Uncle or other mentor like a church leader who can get this across if Rodney won't believe me. Rodney will move on in time and remember the good times and he will also start to live his own life again as his Mother would want. Prayers might help, There is no simple answer .I promise it will get better kiddo


Can't think of a better answer than Pi's.  I would only add that I'll also need to negotiate the narrow trail of offering continuing support without  reminding him by "going on about it."

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