06 Sep “But I’m Not Angry…”

Most people are not angry after the death of a close loved one—at least that’s what I read in a book shortly after my husband Donald died.  I have thought about this statement many times over the years since his death.  Because I have yet to meet anyone, myself included, who wasn’t at least just a little bit angry about something related to the death at some point after the death.  My experience has been that most people do experience some degree of anger.  However, what I have also noticed is that we each admit it on our own healing time table.  What about you—have you thought about this—are you angry?

Since anger is common to the grief experience it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of what it is.  Anger is a normal response after the death of a close loved.  The feelings associated with anger can range anywhere from minor irritation and frustration to intense rage.  Since it does impact emotionally in degrees, many times, if we are not experiencing an intense rage we don’t realize that we are, in fact, angry.  Resolving anger related emotions is a normal part of doing the hard emotional work of grief.  And you have every right to be angry because the truth is that there is a lot to be angry about.

The word anger is derived from the Latin word angere, which means, “To Strangle.”  True to its meaning, anger has the potential to emotionally and physically suffocate and strangle us if we choose not to work through it and to resolve it.  One result of unresolved anger is that it can complicate grief and keep someone stuck in the grieving process.

Anger can be directed in many different ways.  For example, anger can be directed at the doctor for a missed diagnosis or a late diagnosis.  Or, possibly the paramedics for not arriving fast enough.  Maybe it’s the person responsible for the death—or your friends for not being there for you when needed them.  Are you angry with yourself?  With God?   With the person who died?  Do you find yourself yelling at other drivers?  Or getting upset over minor things and over reacting?  Or taking out your anger on the people that you care about the most?

It’s not the fact that we are angry that is a problem because feelings of anger are not sinful or evil—they are just a part of being human.  What matters is what we do with these feelings.  Maybe you are not angry—but if you are, the first healing step is admitting it.  Are you angry?   Share your thoughts…