Written by the Renew & Revitalize Life Coaching Team
Most people know about the stages of grief: In order, they are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These stages have been used since 1969 to describe and analyze the way individuals process and deal with loss. Although the stages form a general structure to illustrate what individuals go through, every situation is different, and everyone experiences grief in their own way.
One way that grief manifests itself is in a severe focus on anger, and many individuals need help working through the anger they experience to be able to move on and function in their everyday lives. Severe reactions to bereavement affect around 10%-15% of people.
Why Does Grief Result in Anger?
While it is always best to work through your emotions with a grief counselor, there are a few ways to find the underlying cause of lashing out in anger over the death of a loved one. Anger is often a form of blame because we feel the need to blame someone for things that are beyond our control.
The website Grief and Sympathy says:
“Think of a child having a tantrum … the screaming rage they feel is huge for them. As we get older, we learn to control our emotions, so then it becomes a shock when grief hits us, and we realize that we are still capable of feeling these extreme emotions.”
Some of the ways this anger manifests are:
- Anger directed at medical professionals
- Becoming angry at God
- Anger at oneself/survivor’s guilt
- Directing anger at other family members
- If the loved one was killed, anger at the person who caused their death
- Anger with the deceased individual for committing suicide
- Being angry at oneself for not “doing more”
What Steps Can an Individual Take to Address Their Anger?
If you are facing an abundance of anger resulting from the loss of a loved one, consider these four steps:
- Come to grips. You must first recognize that you are not yourself, and you may need to take some action to get past your anger. Address your emotions and assess whether you feel alone or abandoned and whether other individuals in your life may be able to help you through this time. Many grieving individuals find comfort in support groups.
- Let it out. You have to express the anger you feel, but you must do it in a healthy way. Lashing out is not the answer and will only result in being avoided by other loved ones. Keeping your anger bottled up, on the other hand, will do more harm than good. The key is to find a happy medium. Instead of flying off the handle, take a minute to breathe, and then confront the person or situation with an “I” statement expressing how they/it made you feel.
- Admit when you’re wrong. Asking for forgiveness is not easy for anyone, but it is crucial in resolving anger issues. The best ways to let go of your anger are to ask for forgiveness and grant it to others. This provides the greatest release of pent up emotions.
If you or someone you love is having a tough time dealing with the anger they are experiencing after losing a loved one, a grief and loss coach can guide you and help you understand the phases of what you are feeling, to move you into a healthier and more positive manner.