Grief and Anger

A common emotion that arises in grief is anger. Many people describe the anger as feeling unnatural or overwhelming - like it’s coming from somewhere else.

“An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior.”

—Victor Frankl

Especially in early grief, we are not ourselves. We can act irrationally. We are often misunderstood, or have trouble communicating. It can be incredibly frustrating.

Zee Wolters and Tom McKee share their experiences with anger inside of grief:

Play Video placeholderZee Wolters: Grief and Anger

I definitely had a lot of difficulty verbalizing a lot of my thoughts, a lot of my feelings, and I didn’t really know how to explain everything that I was feeling. And so, a lot of it came out as anger.

I’ve never viewed myself as a sort of, angry person, or having a short temper, or any of that. But I definitely feel that that did develop. And I feel like everything did sort of magnify that it wasn’t just “Okay, I’m going to be upset for this short period.” It’s like this one thing will set me off for an entire week.

But at the same time I did somewhat recognize that I was being irrational. At, at least, like, months into it. I was like, “okay yeah I’m really fixating on this and I shouldn’t be. I just don’t know how to stop.” I sent a lot of really angry, unsubscribe notices to emails that I got when they started advertising like oh we’re doing Mother’s Day sales. I’m unsubscribing, because I don’t have a mother and this is insulting to me (laughs). Type of thing, you know. But, I did feel like, ok, I can’t, I don’t really know how to put things into words, and I also feel like people don’t want to hear some of the anger and um the complaints, especially you know if ... ’cause, you know it, it’s negative and you don’t wanna focus on, on the negative aspects of things.

Play Video placeholderTom McKee: Grief and Anger

My grief has changed from the beginning to where it is today because, I think the growth that I mentioned has influenced a lot of the anger away. I wouldn’t say that the anger is gone completely. I still get upset with Oscar sometimes when I think about it.

At the same time, a certain level of acceptance has given me peace, I think, that we can’t change it, so we just have to accept it and try to go forward with the wisdom of the experience and apply that to the day to day life.

It can be helpful to reflect on where the anger is coming from. Oftentimes, anger stems from fear or sadness.

When to Get Help

If you experience extreme feelings of anger or feel like you can't control yourself, seek the immediate assistance of a psychologist or a qualified grief counselor.

Eluna provides an index of grief organizations and grief camps by state.

Evermore provides an interactive search by state directory of grief support centers for families