Updated: Mar 24
Anger has been described as the strongest of human emotion. It is also the most difficult to resolve. Early in our lives we learn that having sad, painful or negative feelings are inappropriate. This is passed down through the generations. Anger almost always accompanies grief. What happened is not fair! You may feel angry at the health care providers who couldn’t save your loved one, you may feel angry at your loved one whose behavior and lifestyle contributed to or caused their death, many people feel anger at God or other Spiritual entity. Some people say they don’t know why they are angry but are experiencing raw, gut wrenching anger. Still others experience little or no anger.
Webster Dictionary defines anger as a feeling of displeasure resulting from injury, mistreatment or opposition usually showing itself in a desire to fight back at the cause of these feelings.
Therese Rando, PhD says anger is always to be expected to some degree following a significant loss. It is a natural consequence of being deprived of something or someone valued.
There are 2 types of anger, overt and covert.
Overt anger is an explosion of emotion. This type of anger is often seen as yelling, swearing or pounding pillows. In its most destructive form, there can be road rage, substance abuse and disruption of important relationships and problems at work.
Covert Anger is internalized. Anger is brushed under the rug. The problem with covert anger is that it will come out in one way or another. Grievers may erupt into a rage unexpectedly and possibly in a destructive way.
Strategies for helping grievers with anger includes:
· Talk about and accept feelings.
· Permit crying.
· Listen without judgement.
· Offer help and follow through.
· Encourage journaling. Writing down feeling of anger help to diffuse it.
In some cases, there is someone who is responsible for the death of a loved one. Anger may be justified. It may take time, but forgiveness needs to happen in order to resolve anger which may be holding you back from full recovery and making it impossible to find joy in your life again. Holding on to anger impacts your life, not the guilty person or persons.
Forgiveness is rarely about the guilty party. Forgiveness is important and essential to health and well-being. Forgiveness is an act of will, it is a choice and it takes work and support to resolve.
Inability to forgive:
· Adds to feelings of loneliness and isolation
· Allows anger to fester
· Causes both physical and emotional distress
· Imprisons in the past
· Gives control to the person or persons who hurt you or your loved one
Many people fear that resolving anger mean forgetting the person you lost. That is not possible. In fact, many people are able to remember more fully the good memories once anger has been expressed. It frees you to enjoy your life and allows you to proceed with a healthy recovery. You do not need to make a proclamation to the person you are angry at. It can be done privately. “I am letting go of this anger in order to resume my life and relationships that have been impacted by my anger” This is very difficult and you may need to work through your anger with a trusted friend, family member or clergy. The point is to let the anger out in order to find a path forward in your journey.