The loss of a loved one is one of the most painful experiences anyone can go through. Even a loss of a job or cherished dream can turn our sense of who we are upside down and start the grieving process. Anger is a very common reaction to loss. The grieving person feels a loss of control or abandoned and may lash out at others. If you are on the receiving end of this anger it's not a fun thing to experience, but there are things you can do to help minimize the discomfort.
Create a safe place for your friend or loved one to express her emotions without fear of judgement. You cannot take away the pain and anger your loved one is experiencing, but you can listen and provide them with a comforting place in which she can release her emotions. As the intensity of emotions dissipate, you may find that the anger does as well.
Help the person who is grieving keep a routine. Routine gives people a sense of stability and structure, which is particularly important at a time when things may feel chaotic. When possible keep mealtimes, bedtimes and other regular activities as they were before.
Exercise together. Exercise is a great way to burn off anger and release emotions. Go with your friend or loved one for long, brisk walks as often as possible. Fresh air, sunshine and nature has been shown to be good for recovery.
Encourage your friend or loved one to join a support group. There are support groups available for almost every type of loss, such as the loss of a child, the loss of a spouse or the loss of a parent.
Take a break. Even a 10-minute break can give you an opportunity to compose yourself and go back into the situation. Taking care of your own needs is essential when playing a supportive role.
Seek professional help for your loved one or yourself if the anger reaches a level that is a threat to your safety or the safety of the grieving individual, or does not seem to be diminishing after a long period of time. A grief counselor, pastor, physician or trusted relative may be able to offer additional help.
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- Elizabeth Kubler Ross Foundation: Five Stages of Grief
- On Death and Dying; Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
- Grief.com: Five Stages of Grief
- Psychology Today: Grief: Anger and Guilt
- Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in her groundbreaking book "On Death and Dying" showed that the grieving process is one that takes place in stages. They are
- denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Of course, the process does not always go neatly in order and no two people experience grief in the same way. Some people may move quickly through one phase but linger in another. Others may move back and forth between the stages several times before coming to acceptance. When you understand that anger is just a part of the process for the grieving person as the struggle to come to terms with his loss, it is easier to distance yourself from the anger and to not take it personally.
- Grief and loss can affect one's health and may lead to severe depression or alcohol or drug abuse. If your loved one's grief is so severe it interferes with her normal daily life and lasts more than two months, medical assistance may be required. When in doubt, consult with a professional.
Dorothy Sander has been writing for the over 50 market since 2001. Author of two books and hundreds of articles, she writes on topics such as elder care, aging, empty nest, health and wellness, personal development, loss and more. She holds a B.A. in Economics and a M.Div.
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