How to Deal with Anger When You’ve Lost a Loved One

Anger is often a natural response to grief. It could be that your loss was unexpected and you didn’t get to say goodbye. Perhaps there is some unfinished business that you wish you could resolve and guilt has turned into anger.

It could be that this person decided to take their own life and you’re angry because you didn’t see the signs. Or you tried saving your loved one repeatedly but the addiction was too strong. You’re angry at the drug dealer, the rehab center, and your loved one for relapsing when they told you they were clean. Maybe it was a senseless act that caused the death? A drunk or distracted driver. A murder.

Whatever the reason, here are a few ideas on how to deal with anger:

  • Try to clearly define where the anger is coming from. Is it one of the reasons listed above to deal with anger? Write down exactly what is making you angry. Use your computer, a journal or a a pad of paper to get the feeling and reason(s) defined. What triggers this anger in you?
  • Write your loved one a letter and address the issue that is causing you to feel angry. Get it all out of your head and onto the paper or computer. It doesn’t have to be read by anyone so punctuation and complete sentences aren’t important.
  • If you are around people, like friends and family members, and something triggers the anger, be sure to think before you speak. Say what you need to say once you are calm and collected. Remember, you can’t take it back once you have said it out loud.
  • Take deep breaths and use calming words (under your breath) like “take it easy” or “this isn’t going to help anything right now and I need to stop.” Picture a place that makes you feel good.
  • Exercise. Take a long walk, go for a run, do some yoga or workout and even punch a bag or do some kickboxing.
  • Try “Scream” Therapy. In your car, house or place where nobody can hear you. Get it out loud!
  • Join a grief support group. You’ll be with people who “get” what you’re feeling because chances are, they have felt this way, too.
  • Do not drink excessively or use drugs. They will just make it worse and can make you feel  even more out of control. You might even take your anger out on innocent people or hurt yourself.
  • Forgiveness is a great way to let go of anger. It’s easier said than done, however. You can be freed from the anger by silently telling the person(s) that you forgive them. It doesn’t mean you will forget the offense. Just that you are willing to walk away from it. Forgiveness is really for you.

If none of these coping skills work, please talk to a therapist and take a deeper look into what’s making you feel this way. We have a few listed on our website:

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*If you would like your story shared publicly on our blog, please omit, or replace names of person’s that have not consented to their name being used. With your permission and upon review, we will do what we can to share as many people’s stories as possible. 

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