Moving Through Grief - Dealing With Anger

This week I want to focus on grief and its effects on us in the Daily Devo.  Each day we're going to address one of the "Five Stages of Grief" established years ago by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in her work on grief and how we process it.

Today we're going to talk about the second stage: Anger. 

After my mom died, I found myself feeling a lot of anger.  

I was angry with myself for not acknowledging the gravity of her sickness and wished I'd taken better care of her.  I was also pretty angry with God for letting her die.  

And then I was mad at my mom, and I couldn't articulate why.  

Anger is one of the stages of grief we all encounter after we experience a loss.  We experience anger at some point in our grief process, whether we lose a loved one or a job, or suffer financial hardship. 

Some of us have also experienced anger when we've suffered the loss of our faith or at least the failure of the kind of faith we'd held on to for most of our lives, only to have it shaken beyond repair. 

Believe it or not, anger is a natural part of grief.  It serves as a barometer of sorts that can indicate that we are moving out of the numbness that we often feel when we begin to shift out of denial and feel again. 

Melody Beattie, who has written extensively about our journeys through grief, has this to say about anger: 

Ultimately, surrender and self-responsibility are the only concepts that can move us forward, but to get there we may need to allow ourselves to feel angry... We won't stay angry forever. But we may need to get mad for a while as we search over what could have been, to finally accept what is.

But if we don't deal with it in healthy ways and acknowledge that it's simply part of our journey in grief, anger can take on a life of its own and turn destructive to ourselves and others. 

A few months after my mom's death, I was confronted with the fact that I had not dealt with my anger in healthy ways because I had a terrible moment where it came out in a rush. 

I won't go into the details, but the end result was that I decided it was a good idea to hit my refrigerator as hard as I could.  I put a considerable dent in the door, hurting my hand. 

Immediately I was awash with shame and began weeping uncontrollably as I saw the frightened faces of my wife and son, who were standing there.  

It wasn't long after this that I began seeing a counselor and started the hard work of working through my grief with a professional. 

The dent is still on the fridge door, but it's covered with a colorful magnet with the following Bible verse:  Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you. - 1 Peter 5:7, NLT 

Maybe you have been dealing with the after-effects of anger over your grief and loss. Perhaps it's taken over in unhealthy ways, and you are beginning to feel like you'll never be able to control it.  

You can.  If you reach out for help from friends, family members, or a trusted counselor, you can.  If you begin internalizing the truth about giving your cares to God and surrendering the outcomes, you can.  

May it be so.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  

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