Author: Lori Apon
Category: Grief: Coping and emotions
God designed each one of us with feelings—they serve a purpose.
Have you ever seen a child throw a tantrum? (Maybe that child was yours….it’s okay, we have all been there). From the outside it simply looks like an out-of-control child with a parent or guardian standing helplessly by waiting for it to subside. Yet on the inside is a root to those outbursts of temper–frustration due to a momentary challenge. Perhaps the little one is unable to figure something out, complete a task they thought they would be able to, or maybe their limited vocabulary has stopped them from adequately expressing how they feel. Combined, these aggravations lead to a tantrum which may trigger even more anger!
Have you experienced similar angry emotions on your road of grief? Feeling out-of-control, unable to complete a task you used to be able to, overwhelmed, or having a lack words to express your feelings. Often times in grief you will be physically and emotionally tired as well, compounding the feelings of anger and frustration. You wouldn’t be the first adult to have a full on temper tantrum in grief!
Hear this, anger in grief is normal and unavoidable. When handled correctly, this emotion will allow you to address feelings you have never felt before and move to a healthier place. However, you must be careful to manage this emotion, as it does have the tendency to get out of control.
10 tips to keeping your anger in check:
1. Routine is good. Although it will take time to find your new normal, be patient with yourself while you work towards some kind of normalcy.
2. Prepare for moments of anger. Tender days (holidays, anniversaries, etc.) and events need intentional emotional preparation. Sometimes it’s best to avoid weddings and funerals in the early days because of the emotional pain they can bring up. Take time to prepare for family gatherings or anticipated difficult conversations. Brace yourself for a hard emotional response when experiencing a memory for the first time—songs, pictures, and even faces from the past bring about vulnerability causing you to feel angry at your situation.
3. Find a safe and trusted friend to talk through your anger. Friends will listen to you and make you feel less crazy, they can also bring roots of bitterness to your attention and help cut them off.
4. Fight for a positive perspective. Consider what God says about pain, suffering, and hope—read His words and store them in your heart and mind. Observe how others handle grief in a healthy way. Choose wisely your companions for this journey—misery loves company. Surround yourself with a safe and positive community.
5. Find an encourager. We all need encouragement. Thank God for those who put courage in helping you to be brave in this new season without your spouse. Words of reassurance and affirmation are valuable.
6. Give God control of your life and trust His sovereignty. Are you angry at God? This is a scary place but is often a reality. God will care for you and help you during this painful season—He has not forgotten or forsaken you. When you start to ask if you can trust God with everything, your very life, and the lives of your loved ones—remind yourself of the truth, “He is a Defender of the widow and a Father to the fatherless,” of course, you can trust Him! Working towards that place of rest takes time.
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).
7. Surrender the right to be angry. Satan loves to knock on the door of our hearts with this emotion. Work to remove things that cause you to get angry and be intentional about not allowing roots of bitterness to grow. Do not allow the enemy an opportunity to use anger against you.
“Don’t let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26).
8. Understand that grief is a process. Sometimes we are angry because we are angry and cannot solve the problem of pain in one day. Take breaks from grief by planning a day away.
9. Time – Be patient with yourself. Do not compare yourself to others. Healing takes time.
10. Change is taking place. Grief changes us. You will become a new person and that’s not a bad thing. Seek to become better and not bitter through the journey.