Anger and depression are a big part of the grief experience. One should not be afraid to say that he or she is angry over the death of a loved one or at the deceased for dying. No one needs to feel guilty that she or he is angry or depressed. It is best to find someone who will hear our anger and allow us to acknowledge this emotions so that we can continue to move through the grief process. Anger and Depression can become silent within us and we may not recognize that this is what we are feeling.
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross studied near death experiences as her life work. She also wrote several great books. The one I think that is the most known about is, On Death And Dying. It was her life work. She is also known for saying, “Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose.”
She is famous for her Five Stages Of Grief. The acronym is DABDA. To me, it stands for “DAB DA tears from your eyes.” It is just something I came up with to help me remember it during my studies in becoming a Thanatologist. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance
These are five of the many stages that we are thought to experience with loss. Sometimes, the loss that is experienced is a loss of a sense of self. We feel out of sorts or out of control. We are not used to feeling a rush of so many emotions coming at us all at the same time. It is okay to experience highs and lows throughout this type of journey. After the death of one we care for we begin mourning what was and what will never be again. This is normal. All of the above mentioned stages and more should be expected. There is no order that they occur in. The steps can also be dealt with and forgotten or re-lived throughout the process or a whole life. It can be helpful if we accept that emotions felt should be accepted as part of your individual journey. It is okay to acknowledge them as we feel them. A journal can help with this. It will help us be able to look back on yesterday or our last note and see that what we were feeling was real and not just imagined during a fog of feelings.
We should try to accept the grief journey and allow ourselves and our families to actively feel all of it. Know that feeling Depressed and Angry it is normal. There will be times when it does not seem real and denial takes over. We just keep going as if nothing happened. Know that this too is okay. If life seems to come to a standstill because of grief that is okay too. Oftentimes, people outside of the loss feel that we should just get over our grief and move on. It should not linger. This too is a form of denial because this is not the natural way of grief. Our society does not know how to deal with it.
Confusion can take over during times when we feel that we have moved on then, suddenly, memories of the deceased or an event that involved the person such as a moment of helplessness in another situation can trigger us to feel our loss all over again. We can feel mad or sad that others do not miss our loved one in the same way we do. We all grieve differently; we heal in our own time.
It can be hard to recognize that the feelings and emotions we are feeling are directly related to our grief. Awareness that times will be hard is a big part of knowing how to react to an emotion. If we start to get irritable or frustrated, try to stop and think were we thinking about our loved one just before that emotion was triggered. Were we hours or days ago involved in clearing out their home or did we stumble across an item of theirs that started a memory just before it happened. Consciously talk yourself through the situation. Realize that a great deal of anger and depression is connected to fear. We can try and talk ourselves through pain by bargaining that if we stop doing the things that trigger the emotion then the emotion will disappear. In reality, it will resurface fairly soon in some way. It is helpful to acknowledge that people, in general, are afraid of all the rush of emotions that we do not normally think about as all happening at once are going to be doing so for a while.
If we are not personally dealing with grief and we know someone that is give them this information. Place it where they can find it. Leave hints in notes saying things like “It is okay to be mad that you no longer have your loved one with you.” Give them moments of our time to tell their story. Storytelling is so important for the healing process. It allows us to unconsciously and/or consciously address our concerns. If we are angry, then telling a story about anger can lead us to understand why we are angry. The story will generally be closely connected to the feeling being expressed. For example, if someone is telling us a story about something that made them angry they are indirectly or directly relating to the cause of the anger and the emotion itself. If someone is telling a story about something their loved one did that made them angry, they are directly talking through the anger. Active listening can be hard, but it really can help people heal faster.
If someone is having an especially hard time working through their grief please guide them toward help. Many culture avoid grief because of the intensity of the emotions surrounding it more than we are taught to deal with. Face grief as a real part of living, so we can help each other heal and move through it together.
I became a Thanatologist to help families know what their options are when it comes to dealing with end of life issues. Families often argue about who is in charge of the sick. The hospital did not offer us a mediator or a grief counselor. I took graduate classes at Hood College in Frederick Maryland and I earned my Certificate in Thanatology. I am two classes from my Master’s in this field. Like Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and many others like her, I hope to help families know that the death of a loved one does not have to be surrounded by hard feeling that the pull us apart as we try control all that is happening in and around us. Grief Counseling should be offered by every hospital, especially the ones that handle a lot of complicated deaths that involve things like organ transplant patients be they the giver or the receiver. Families of patients who are at the end of their life be it through chronic illness should be more open to receiving help from those that dedicate their lives to finding answers for all that go through this, and we all do eventually whether it be by sudden, unexpected, death or following a chronic illness. It was not until I discovered the Thanatology course did I even know that there was a such thing as grief counseling.
If you find yourself unable to publicly talk to someone about your feelings of Sadness and Anger, please leave me a comment at the end of this posting and together we can figure out what you should do next.