Anger is a natural human emotion. Anger can range from feeling slight irritation to becoming extremely frustrated and physically aggressive.
Angry feelings are normal after bereavement, but not everybody feels anger when they are grieving. There is no right or wrong way to respond to grief – how we respond is an individual thing, and often out of our control.
People can get angry about lots of different things when they are grieving; things that were or were not done; things that were or were not said; the injustice of it all… And sometimes just because…
It can be appropriate to express anger about situations you are presented with, however, acting on our anger can have unintended negative consequences; it can affect relationships, work, our physical health and our everyday functioning.
Anger has three components;
A physical reaction; Anger is not just an emotional feeling, it is also a biological process. Anger at its peak often involves a rush of adrenaline, an increased heart rate, higher blood pressure and the tightening of muscles.
The cognitive experience of anger; this relates to the thoughts that lead to us being angry. Anger arises from how we perceive or think about something. For example, it may be that thinking about something that happened or did not happen to your loved one makes you angry.
Behaviour; this is often the way we express our anger and / or express to others that we are feeling angry. This can include anything from raising our voices to breaking things. And yes, sometimes we just need to smash a plate… However, there are ways to express our anger through behaviours that are less damaging to us, such as talking with someone about how you feel, or going for a walk, or meditating. We know that these suggestions can often sound like they may not be enough to diffuse a situation, but often these small actions can surprise us – it’s always worth giving them a try.
It is ok to feel angry, but it important to have healthy ways to diffuse your anger rather than acting on it.
Some strategies you can do to help with your anger include;
- Problem solve – be aware of the things that trigger or escalate your anger
- Ask for help – talk through how you are feeling with someone you trust
- Sit somewhere quiet and breathe deeply
- Write down your angry thoughts – this may be favourable for people who do not feel comfortable talking about their feelings
When is it a good idea to ask for help with my anger?
Trying to ignore or avoid anger does not always work and is not always a good idea. If you have tried to control your anger yourself and are continuing to have trouble with it, it may be worth seeking support. This can be done via your GP or via speaking to another health-professional. You are welcome to ask us for help or advice if this is something you are struggling with. There is nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it – that is a strength, not a weakness.