Anger in Grief – 3 Tricks for Working with this Taboo Emotion!

When anger arises as a part of our grieving process, it can be one of the most difficult emotions to allow ourselves to feel.

We can feel shame around it and may tell ourselves, “I shouldn’t feel angry, I should feel SAD.”

I want to break down this taboo, because, like all feelings, anger serves an important function in a healthy emotional life and is essential to our experience of being fully human.

It is normal to feel angry when we experience loss. 

We may even feel angry at the person or thing we are missing the most! 

This is completely natural and not something we need to feel shame around. 

It is essential to find a way to allow ourselves to feel our anger, so that then we may feel what is underneath it. 

Underneath anger we may find sorrow, fear, or even a sense of connection & joy! 

Our ability to express boundaries & needs is also deeply intertwined with our ability to express healthy anger, because all three of these things are connected to our Primal Life-force Energy. 

It is connected to our life force energy, so when we suppress our anger, we also suppress our vitality.

If we grew up witnessing toxic anger & violence, it can feel scary to assert ourselves, because we may fear that if we express needs or boundaries we will be rejected, or we may fear that we will lose control ourselves. 

Martin Prechtel says, “Without conflict, you get violence.”

So suppressed anger is not a solution to violence. In fact, they are actually two sides of the same coin.

Luci Lampe, Somatic Therapist & Relationship Coach says: “When two people are living in integrity with themselves and honoring the truth of their hearts, conflict is inevitable…By avoiding necessary, healthy conflict, we often create deeper issues, resentments, breaks of trust, and breaks in our own integrity [emphasis mine] which THEN lead to destructive, painful conflict.” 

But how do we get from violence or suppressed anger to fierce love, healthy anger and healthy boundaries.” 

We may have many ideas and blocks that are in the way, and we must address these before we can even begin. So let’s name some common beliefs that prevent us from acknowledging and allowing our anger:

  1. “Anger is dangerous” ”- if we grew up witnessing violent anger, we may fear that we, too, will lose control if we allow our anger out. Or we may have lost control in the past and caused harm that we are ashamed of.
  2. A spiritually evolved person doesn’t’ get angry” – I’m calling BS on this one!!!  An evolved person who is living in integrity with themselves will not be able to avoid conflict because in order to stay in our integrity we must communicate our needs and boundaries in a healthy, adult way.
  3. “Anger is a sign of weakness,” actually, healthy anger is incredibly powerful. It can move mountains and blocks in our lives that otherwise would remain status quo.
  4. “I don’t need to work with anger when I work with grief” – Actually, anger may be covering up unbearable feelings underneath such as despair, sorrow or shame. If this is the case, as it often is, we need to prepare our nervous systems to feel these feelings.

Anger is a necessary emotion, and like any e-motion, anger needs to move.

Learning how to express anger in healthy ways is wonderful and NECESSARY!

We gain more access to our primal, life-force energy, which opens us to more aliveness, more joy, and a sense of our true power.

So what are the benefits of anger?

Healthy functions of anger are:

  • It alerts us when something is wrong in the environment, ie “That is not okay!”
  • It is essential to reorganize and restore survival responses, in particular our “fight” response.
  • Access to instinctual energies such as primal aggression helps us feel safe in our bodies and in relationships.
  • When we are in touch with healthy anger, it enhances our ability to say “NO” and have healthy boundaries. In order to have the capacity for a full YES, we need to be able to say no!

Hopefully I’ve convinced you of the benefits of working with anger (and the drawback of keeping it suppressed too!).

If you’d like to learn some simple practices to begin to gently practice working with your anger & primal energy, check out this short video I made below:

If you’d like to learn more skills to be with your own feelings as well as those of others, we now have TWO really lovely grief support & skill building groups running on Monday evenings and Wednesday mornings.  If you’d like to learn more check it out HERE.