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Anger is a natural, healthy part of grief, but don't let it become a way of life

Anger is a natural, healthy part of grief, but don't let it become a way of life

emotional african american man yelling with hands together on sofa at home (copy)

After a loss, anger is a natural part of the healing process.

Anger is a natural emotion, and it’s especially acute during the grieving process.

Anger is a natural part of the healing process. But, since anger is a frightening emotion to most of us, we do not like to admit it, let alone, permit it.

Especially when we hear things like:

•“Well, they lived a nice long life…”

•“It’s meant to be…”

•“It’s God’s will…”

•“He/she is in a better place…”

•“You’ve been chosen as a shining example for another…”

We sometimes want to scream out loud: “Deliver me from people who have all the answers.”

The reality is we need to feel anger. It can be healthy to have anger, even toward a loved one who has died and left us feeling all alone. It’s even all right to have anger toward God for letting something terrible happen, or not answering our prayers. If we have the courage to use it right, anger can even serve to lift us out of the valley of mourning and grief.

Accept and express your feelings

Very early on, society teaches us that feelings and expressions of emotions are somehow not appropriate. This starts with “big boys and girls don’t cry.” The truth is that mature people need to cry and need to give into grief.

That means we may need to give into anger for a time as well. Losing someone or something important to us should make us angry. So not only do we need to give ourselves permission to grieve, but we need to allow ourselves permission to be angry also. If we bury our anger, it will only resurface when we least expect it.

Focus on the issues and talk them out

Perhaps you are feeling angry and are not sure why. Grief has a way of clouding our vision, especially when it comes to anger. Take a moment and jot down all of the possibilities: Are you angry with a person, a circumstance, yourself or maybe God?

Be as specific as you can. You may find you are mad at more than one thing. List them all. By labeling the targets of your anger you will be better equipped to deal with them. When you are comfortable tell a trusted friend about your angry feelings. Letting someone know what is going on inside especially when your blood pressure is boiling, brings down the temperature of anger.

If you do not feel comfortable talking to a friend or family member, you might consider talking with a professional counselor or joining a support group with others who will understand what you are going through.

Apologize if necessary

Sometimes grief inspired anger can do more damage than we realize. If you suspect that your anger may have hurt someone’s feelings say, “I’m sorry.” An apology will cleanse your spirit, and it says to the person you have offended, you care about the relationship even though you are hurting.

A caution: Feeling angry is sometimes a way to mask our pain, to deflect our loss. “I’m angry, so I must be over it,” is how the thinking goes. However, angry alone is not necessarily a sign of recovery.

Constant anger, in fact, might mean we are not giving ourselves permission to absorb our loss and grieve fully. Anger that stems from grief holds the potential to become toxic. Without proper attention, it will fester and take root, and turn into full-blown bitterness.

While we are grieving, if we are not careful, anger can become a nasty habit, a way of life. The good news is it does not have to.

For more tips for dealing with loss, visit

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