What is the Connection Between Grief and Anger?

Grief and anger have a strong, interconnecting relationship. Anger is considered to be one of the stages in the grief process. Other commonly cited grief stages include denial, depression and bargaining behavior. Acceptance of the loss is considered the last stage of grief and the beginning of healing from loss. Anger often results from feelings of resentment due to a grief over a loved one’s death, a divorce, job loss or a health crisis.
Deterioration of one’s health caused by an illness such as cancer can cause grief reactions in many people. Feelings of a loss of control, grief and anger often occur in those diagnosed with a disease, as one may wonder why such a horrible illness could strike them. A person who becomes disabled from a disease or accident, such as having to be in a wheelchair, may also become angry and grieve the physically active person he or she once was before acceptance of the new situation is possible.
Denial of having a disease or life-changing disability may occur before feelings of grief and anger set in. Even if someone dies or if a person gets a divorce, it can take time to fully realize that the one missing is really gone. When the reality does set in, it may cause grief and anger to surface because of the awareness of and mourning for the lost relationship. For instance, when a spouse dies or files for a divorce, the remaining ex-partner may feel angry at being left all alone at the same time he or she is also grieving the loss.
If the sadness and angry feelings are turned inward rather than expressed, depression may result. Grief counseling can help people dealing with any type of significant loss express their anger and other emotions to help them recover from it. Grief counselors are trained to recognize the different stages of grief, including anger; they can help people who are grieving a loss understand themselves and their emotions better.
Bargaining behavior often follows a period of grief and anger in recovering from loss. People may pray to reverse the loss if they could give up something else in their lives instead. After coming to terms that the loss is there to stay and it must be dealt with, acceptance of the situation often begins to occur. The bargaining types of prayers may then change to praying for the ability to better cope with the loss.

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