26th May 2022
As noted in a previous blog post, people still tend to look at grief in terms of the ‘five stages’ model – something coined in 1969 – which states that we all process a bereavement in the same way: denial, bargaining, anger, depression, acceptance. Since then, a far more nuanced and accurate understanding of grief has developed. People don’t experience these emotions in sequential ‘stages’, nor do we necessarily go through all of them.
When it comes to the so-called ‘anger’ stage, I have seen, over many years as a bereavement counsellor in Harrogate, that there is precious little understanding of what this actually means. And so, in this blog post, we will take a closer look at the role of anger in grief.
Anger Comes in Different Forms
If we think about anger, our mind tends to picture someone shouting, but the emotion of anger is far more complex than that. When someone dies, the person who is grieving may well descend into fits of loud outbursts at people, or nobody in particular, but it is also very possible to be angry in silence. It could be that we are quietly resentful of the person who has died for leaving you. You might be angry towards the doctors for not doing more, or other people who haven’t lost a loved one, or even God.
We experience anger in various ways. Some of us hold it in; others let it out. And it can be directed at yourself, the person who has died, or anyone else.
Something Lies Behind the Anger
Many people, for myriad reasons, find it hard to express complex emotions like fear or sadness. Those emotions are there, but they were never given the space to bring them out into the open in a safe way growing up, and as such can’t vocalise them in adulthood. As a result, these emotions come out as anger. It is their way of telling you they feel sad, or confused, or hurt, or perhaps even scared. If you are feeling this way, I am here to provide bereavement counselling that allows you to engage with these primary emotions and understand them better.
Don’t Suppress It!
Nobody likes to feel angry, but trying to turn it off or avoiding it only makes the matter worse. The emotion remains unresolved. It is important that you go ahead and feel your anger, no matter how difficult it might be. These emotions come up for a reason and the best thing you can do is get present to them.
Of course, I know that showing this anger to family and friends can be extremely difficult – or impossible for you to do. If you are looking for an outlet to process your anger, or any other emotion you may be feeling, I am here to provide compassionate bereavement counselling in Harrogate or online. Give me a call whenever you like.