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Why? This all-consuming question pounds its way into every corner of our mind after the death of a loved one, especially if that death is sudden. Exhausting sorrow and overwhelming anger become the bitter gall in our gut. We can’t sleep. We can’t eat. We sit holding a weary conversation with this infamous WHY. With very little explanation in response to our inquiry, we quickly grow agitated, angry, and, if not mindful, most bitter by our current turn of events. Living in this state of mind over time becomes immobilizing. Our healthy self reminds us that we can’t live here in this mire. We can’t continue on this maze without impending mental deterioration, but how can we escape its clutches? 

What do we do with feelings of anger after losing a loved one?

TIME+TRUTH—Permission to Grieve

One thing to do with these feelings of anger after losing a loved one is to allow ourselves permission to grieve. It’s okay not to be okay at the onset of our loss. We lost someone we love, and that ache feels like a bottomless abyss. Someone said, “Time heals all wounds.” I don’t know how much truth this adage holds, but time does ease some ache. I’m not sure about the longing we feel towards the absence of our loved ones, though. We often force smiles, pleasantries, and confidence that we don’t feel at all. It looks good to appear strong. 

TIME+TRUTH–Permission To Tell the Truth

Others compliment our composure and ability to forge on through the pain, which is wonderful—IF it’s true. If we wrap ourselves in this persona just to appease others, yet behind closed doors, in the solace of our private space, we meltdown from extreme brokenness, recognize that this pretense is not our truth (at least, not yet). When we take the path of Super-Griever, people tend to move on and not check-in so often since we have it all together. Truth is powerful. How are you doing, really? Today I’m not okay. Today I feel like screaming. Today I’m numb and feel like I’m in a thick fog. Today I feel like going to sleep and never waking up. Today I feel like I’m living a dream that’s gone way south. Today I’m mad and angry as hell. Speak it out in a safe place to those safe people who will hear. Permission to grieve is a liberating, healing balm.

TIME+ACTION—Knowing When to Move Forward

The cycle of grief is very real. It’s near impossible to maneuver past or around the various stages of denial, negotiation, anger, and acceptance. Reading through so much material about grief, I found and experienced that these stages hold not a set path or pattern. They interrupt our lives at any given time. One moment we feel as though we’re going to be okay, and boom! Without warning, a burst of emotion floods us, and we’re transported back into dire agony over our loss. No one told us that this happens and will continue to happen, but with less frequency over time. But what do we do with the feelings of anger after the death of our loved ones? Suppose we’re experiencing a healthy grief cycle. In that case, we recognize that somehow we must put one foot in front of the other and get moving, no matter how mentally exhausting. 

But what do we do with the feelings of anger? If we told the whole truth and nothing but the truth, we’re angry at our loved one for leaving us. We’re angry at being forced to figure out life and how to rebuild a life without our loved ones. We’re angry over some financial, monetary reductions. We’re angry that our loved ones no longer miss the journey of life that we shared together. We’re angry that our Creator took someone from us and left us with a bucketload of grief, pain, and emptiness. Suppose we told the absolute truth lodged beneath the truth that we’re willing to admit aloud. Truth be told, we feel like our Creator stole something from us and robbed us of a happy life—and that pisses us off something terrible. And so we’re back on the hamster wheel of WHY.

What are we to do with all of this raw and candid fleshing out of honesty? As Whitney Houston sang, “I’m taking it step-by-step…day by day…” I’m a firm believer in speaking the truth about what we feel. Yet, I also think it’s most important to unpack our feelings and align them to the truth. The truth is, our journey hasn’t ended, so we must find the strength and the resolve to move forward. We must glean from what we know and use it to navigate through life without our loved ones. Movement looks differently for each of us going through the process. The motivation to go forward resonates differently. Yet, one common denominator holds true—in time and at the appointed time, we all must embrace our invitation call to forward motion.

TIME+PERSPECTIVE—A New Why—Why In My Life

I heard a message this month that forced me to confront myself with a pivoting reality that I had never considered. The message challenged me to reconsider and redirect my need for WHY. Instead of asking why my loved ones had been snatched from my life and ripped from my heart, consider why they had visited my life in the first place. I’m quick on the draw when it comes to offering my point of view, but this charge silenced me. In the stillness of the moment, I had no recourse but to own the fact—Never had I pondered the idea of why this person, these people, had entered my life, either by familial bonds or divine interactions that brought us together, heart to heart. Numerous family, church family, and close friends left my life over the past two years. I’ve experienced more death in these two years than I have over the nearly sixty years of my entire existence. The questions still remained: What do I do with the feeling of anger after losing a loved one, and why was this person in my life in the first place? I started chronicling what I gained from each person who left my life and what I contributed to each of these people. I envisioned a beautiful tapestry of love and strength and adventure and creativity and helpfulness and knowledge and curiosity and service and purpose, and it warmed my heart. I inhaled a breath of gratitude. My life is richer because of what each one contributed to my life. I also valued the portion I deposited in their lives for the time they lived out their earthly journey. 

TIME+GRATITUDE–Hope Makes Grief Bearable

I realize each one of my loved ones, no matter their age, helped shape my life. They made their deposit. They did what they came to do, and they went back to their Creator, who gave them the assignment to enrich my life and to be enriched by my life. I had to deal with the sobering truth: My core animosity stemmed from the fact that I believed my Creator stole something from me. He robbed me of a life that I presumed was mine. I presumptuously determined that this life should never cease to exist in this earthly realm. It sounds crazy, but I dealt with the facts. I only consented to a loved one leaving if it became sorely apparent that his current mortal visage could no longer house him. 

Then and only then did I concede. I hope you’re not judging me. I offer my vulnerable soul to you. The enlightenment that I experienced from this discourse with myself and my Creator is this: My Creator didn’t steal anyone from me. He loved me enough to unite me with each one of my precious loved ones for an appointed time. It’s okay that I’m disappointed at their departure, but how can I remain angry because someone, my Creator, came to retrieve those ones who rightfully belong to Him. For instance, have you ever loaned someone something and she kept it for a long time? When you request to have it back, you sense an attitude. Just because you let your belongings remain in the keeping of another doesn’t mean it’s his or hers. It’s your right to request it back. It’s yours. In the same way, our Creator has the right to call back what ultimately belongs to His realm. My perspective shifted after this aha moment, and much of my anger subsided. I’m healing with a heart of thanksgiving for every single loved one that graced my life, and I am most thankful that I had the opportunity to sow into each of their lives as well.

TIME TO TELL—Share your thoughts with me in COMMENTS about your take away from What To Do With Feelings of  Anger After Losing a Loved One. I look forward to reading your comments. Feel free to share this article with those struggling through grief.

 

Peace and Blessings,

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