Why Does Grief Make You Angry at Friends and Family?

Understanding Grief / Understanding Grief : Litsa


Reading that title, you might be thinking that there are approximately a zillion reasons grief makes you angry. And you’d be right - we could make a very, very long list of reasons for anger in grief. Just off the top of my head, some of the very common ones are:

  • You're angry at the universe or God, but that anger gets displaced onto those you care. Displacement in grief is very, very common.
  • Grief means that your baseline energy is depleted, making it harder to keep your anger, frustration, and annoyance in check. Sometimes it just spills out in moments when, before your loss, you would have been able to contain it.
  • Anger in grief is sometimes because people do legitimately harmful and hurtful things. When it happens, you're (understandably) angry about those things.
  • The world is unfair and unjust and it is hard to contain your resentment toward those who you don't believe have been on the receiving end of those injustices.

A Specific Type of Anger in Grief

After experiencing a major loss for the first time, many of us look back on how we handled it when friends/family went through something similar in the past. We realize how much we screwed it up or didn't understand. We surveyed ~1500 grievers about this. 98% said that, after their loss, they realized they'd said or done things in the past when friends and family were grieving that they now regret. 98%!

But this doesn't stop most people grieving from feeling incredulous, angry, and hurt when their own friends and family say or do things that don't feel grief-supportive. We often realize these things were smaller than our initial anger reaction would have suggested. Yet we still feel that anger deeply. That's what we want to dig into today.


There is No Single Reason Why Grief Makes You Angry in this Way

But one big reason that we are so reactive toward others when we're grieving is that, as humans, we are deeply relational beings. We are wired for attachment as our primary way of feeling safe and secure in a deeply physiological way. As humans, from birth, we are dependent on our caregivers for survival (for far longer than most other animals). We seek natural attachment and closeness to our caregivers. Advances in neuroscience and physiology have taught us that, beginning as babies and across our lifespan, we engage in this amazing biological function called bio-behavioral synchrony.

Bio-behavioral-what??

If you've never heard of biobehavioral synchrony, get ready to have your mind blown. Biobehavioral synchrony is this incredible phenomenon where our bodies synch up with our attachment figures. It is "the coordination of biological and behavioral processes between attachment partners during social contact" (Bell, 2020). Everything from hormones to heart rate to alpha and gamma rhythms in the brain synch up. It is one of the first ways infants learn to calm themselves. When they are distressed and a caregiver responds to their needs, the baby feels safe and secure. When the caregiver picks up the infant and soothes them, the infant's heartbeat and brainwaves start to match the caregiver's! This helps the baby's body learn to self-regulate.

How well our needs were met as babies by our caregivers impacts how we respond to and feel safe in relationships throughout our lives. (You can learn more about attachment styles here). And that biobehavioral synchrony doesn't end with our caregivers in childhood! We create attachments across our lives and our bodies KEEP synching up. It all comes together to create an attachment system that is core to the way we exist relationally in the world.


source: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/psychology/biobehavioral-synchrony

Grief and Severed Attachments

Okay, but what does this have to do with grief and anger. Here's the connection: a devastating loss tears away someone we love. We're reminded that our relationship can be severed at any moment - by death or other traumatic events. This dysregulates our entire attachment system and spirals us into a state of stress and crisis. Part of why support systems are so important in grief is that, in a core, biological way, they remind us that we still have a safe, secure base of friends and family.

But when someone in that support system makes a misstep - even one that's relatively small, even when we ourselves have made similar missteps - it strains our already stressed and panicked attachment system.

We're quick to fear that maybe it is a sign other relationships and attachments aren't safe and are going to harm us. Maybe they don't really care about us or understand us. Maybe we are actually isolated and all alone. That is terrifying for anyone and everyone in grief, and especially hard for those who may have struggled before the loss with trusting the reliability and safety of those around them. And when we're scared, anger is one of our common protective emotions.


When We're Hurt, We Just Want to Avoid More Hurt

In grief, we've already been hurt by a devastating loss and we don't want to risk more hurt, so sometimes we become hypervigilant to any sign that another relationship may harm us. We get angry, cut people off, or are less forgiving because we don't want to risk any relationships that might cause us more pain.

And people really do sometimes do and say hurtful things in our grief, because supporting a griever is complicated. And some people really are hurtful and harmful.

But we really do sometimes react in disproportionately angry and critical ways. That's in part because our brains/bodies are coping with one of our deepest biological fears - being rejected, uncared for, alone and abandoned.  Suddenly things that, rationally, we know are not directly or intentionally hurtful or harmful can FEEL hurtful and harmful. And what can make us feel especially confused by our own emotions is that sometimes we realize that even if the person had done the opposite thing, we still would have felt angry! Don't get what I mean?


Examples of Disproportionate or Confusing/Conflicting Anger, Shared by the What's Your Grief Community:

  • I had friends stop inviting me to go out and I was so angry and hurt by it. When I asked them about it, they said they assumed I wanted some space to grieve and that made me even angrier. What seemed so unfair to me about my reaction is that I know I had done the exact same thing to a friend after her sister died a few years ago. I specifically remember that I didn't invite her to our Memorial Day cookout because I figured she needed some space to grieve. I had to remind myself that I had done the same thing before I experienced grief and they weren't trying to hurt me, just like I hadn't been trying to hurt my friend. But it still felt hurtful. The thing that is funny is that someone else in my support group for young widows was angry that her friends kept inviting her out. She felt like they were being insensitive by inviting her when they knew she was grieving. When she said that in group I could completely understand why she would be feeling that way. It made me wonder, if my friends had kept inviting me to things, would I have also been angry at them? If I'm honest with myself, I think I might have been. Who knows? Grief is so confusing.
  • I was angry with my friends for talking about their kids' upcoming prom plans when they know that my daughter died and will never be able to go to prom. Beyond the anger itself, I felt guilty for being angry, as I care about them and their kids. Of course, I want their kids to have a wonderful prom. And I even know I would feel angry if they were trying to shelter me from any conversations about their kids - I think I'd feel left out or like they were treating me as broken if they stopped sharing their joys with me.
  • I saw a good friend from church and she complimented me on my appearance. She said I looked really nice and that she loved my hair (I had changed the style). It was a completely harmless comment. In fact, it was actually a nice comment! But at that moment I felt so angry at her. I interpreted it as her suggesting I was no longer grieving. Even typing it out I realize how bizarre that sounds. But I think I subconsciously that I had been worried that if people saw that I had gotten a new haircut and was making a bit more of an effort with my appearance that they would assume I was "moving on". So when she said it, I saw it as proof that didn't understand that I was still grieving.
  • My first day back to work [after bereavement leave] I called my brother on the way home to tell him about my day. He was worried I was going back too soon. I gave him a play-by-play of the entire day. It had been ok but there were some tears and I had been angry at some people. In the way that only my brother could he stopped me and said, "wait, let me get this straight. What you're telling me is that you got really mad at one coworker because she DIDN'T acknowledge you'd been on bereavement leave or ask how you're doing and you got really mad at another coworker because she DID ask you about the funeral and asked how you're doing?". Had anyone else pointed this out I probably would have gotten angry at them too! But my brother can make anything into a joke so luckily it just gave me a good laugh. And he wasn't wrong. I had been angry at both of them for opposite reasons. In fact, I couldn't even really figure out what I wanted either of them to say. I think I was just scared about going back to work. Like I learned in a What's Your Grief online course, often anger is covering up another emotion (like fear). I was scared that my coworkers wouldn't be supportive or understand how hard it was going back to work, so I was getting angry at all sorts of things.

Yikes, this type of anger in grief is what I'm dealing with. What do I do?

There is no easy solution, but you can start by noticing when anger in grief comes up for you. Remember, emotions aren't good or bad - they just are. Even tough emotions, like anger. Approach the feeling with curiosity. There is value in recognizing whether anger is coming up because of genuine harm vs fear of being harmed, rejected, or abandoned. If it is the latter, talk with those you love about this. Explain it and ask for some grace and support from them as you navigate it. Also, let them know what you need from them to feel safer and more secure. Not sure how that conversation might go? It might sound something like this:

"Since my brother's death, I've found myself getting really angry with people around me. I think it is, in part, because I am feeling so overwhelmed and hurt. I'm so scared that people won't be able to understand what I am going through. I am worried I'm just going to get hurt more when I open up to people. And I'm worried people will not be able to support me. I am working on it. It will help me if we can talk openly about it if something comes up that makes me angry and scared. There's one thing that came up recently that I was hoping to talk with you about - would that be okay?"

When anger comes up, find the tools to calm and ground yourself that work for you. Learning to express your needs and set boundaries are also hugely helpful tools. And learning how to give people feedback when they say something harmful or hurtful is tough but important in coping with anger in grief.

Relate to this? Have advice or suggestions for others coping with it? Leave a comment!

We invite you to share your experiences, questions, and resource suggestions with the WYG community in the discussion section below.

We invite you to share your experiences, questions, and resource suggestions with the WYG community in the discussion section below.

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After writing online articles for What’s Your Grief for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible, real-life book!

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34 Comments on "Why Does Grief Make You Angry at Friends and Family?"

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  1. Michelle  October 5, 2023 at 3:58 am Reply

    My brother in law committed suicide 1 year ago.
    My husband and I went away the weekend of his anniversary (it was a surprise gift). When my husband told his mum she started crying. We said we’d see her dhrn we got hime. When it was booked the date hadn’t been realised.
    Now my mother in law is so angry and does not want to see my husband, saying he is dead to her, that she lost him 30 years ago (when we met). She wants to kill herself. She screamed at me that ‘i hope YOU never lose a son ‘. I wanted my family with me and you left me alone.
    She is saying that we never think about her, that it is all about my family, our children and that we think more of the dog than we do of her.
    I tried to help by seeing her and she said some truly hurtful and nasty things about me and my husband. I apologised to her for bring a disappointment to her and not being what she wants us to be.
    She felt better afterwards and saw my husband but she is now refusing to see him again. I know the same thoughts will be there because my father in law is not letting us speak to her, when we have both phoned.
    To say he is dead to her …
    I am trying be empathetic but my husband is also grieving and is a good person who doesn’t deserve this treatment.

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  2. Kylie  September 3, 2023 at 8:55 pm Reply

    My dad took his life in March this year and its been rough ever since. I live away from all my family and really have no “true” friends. I feel alone and lately I have been so angry about everything. I didn’t think it was the grief because why would grief cause me to be so angry with things that have nothing to do with my dad. Reading this has made some sense but I still don’t know how to calm my anger. I have lashed out a lot at work and have gotten very opinionated. I have tried a journal, I have tried breathing but the boiling anger inside scares me. I have people I can talk to, but I’m afraid to open up fully because I don’t think they would understand and I don’t want to hear the its just grief or maybe try this or that. I onow I won’t ever get back to who I was before my dad died, but I want to feel like me again. I hate how I have been feeling. I don’t want sympathy, I don’t want pity, I want normal!!!!! I know anger is a part of grief, but is it supposed to be this intense?!?!

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  3. Amy G  August 14, 2023 at 10:59 am Reply

    I lost my husband “suddenly” last month. The “suddenly” is in quotes because although he had many health issues, he had been stable. I am so angry at everyone all the time. I thought this article resonated with me until I say the articles “comments” about what to say to people. It is too long and sounds like a hallmark card. If they are real friends they will understand the anger and not hold it against me. I don’t believe that anyone really is interested in how you are. They want their “ticket punched” on the grief train. It’s like they are thinking I asked, I am a great person, but I feel awkward so I hope she doesn’t really tell me anything. Also they are thinking, I have a great life and I have plans so I hope I can get out of this fast. People who say “let me know what I can do” are actually the worst. I’m so angry I want to say “paint my house” or “lend me $10,000 just to see what they would say then.

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    • NellTick  April 7, 2024 at 6:57 am Reply

      I thoroughly understand. In my case, people said nothing. Not one expression of condolence. None! I have begun to think that people, with their carefully developed social hierarchy, believe some of us (me, for one) are not important enough for them to express their sympathy to. God forgive me if I’m wrong, but in my present angry state, that’s what I’m leaning toward to explain what I’ve just experienced after the death of my loved one. So I must forgive them as God has forgiven me for so much.

  4. Katy Andrews  April 18, 2023 at 10:26 am Reply

    I haven’t been the angry one I’ve found family members and mums partner getting angry at me. I understand grief is grief but I’ve just lost my mum. They have said some hurtful things. I have been sensitive at times I know that. I guess grief let’s me know who I can rely on which is myself.

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  5. Priscilla Stanton  March 29, 2023 at 5:04 am Reply

    My mother was murdered at work by a psychotic patient when I was 9, and I am now 70, and I have been angry every minute since the moment I heard she was murdered.

    I agree with everything in the article, except for one thing: it presumes that other people will care enough to want to understand, and thus give you the space to be open about what you need in terms of being sensitive to your need for grief/anger understanding. I have found no one who cares that way. So I mostly shut up and get even angrier.

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    • Amy  April 26, 2023 at 5:53 pm Reply

      I am so sorry that your mom was taken from you that way and when you were so young. And I agree with you that it’s extremely rare for someone to care enough to want to understand and to be open to giving space for real emotions and complicated experiences. Most people want to give advice or platitudes so they can feel good about themselves. They want it to be simple so that their simple response will be enough and they can move on to the next thing. It’s so sad and infuriating.

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  6. Nicole  March 21, 2023 at 6:59 pm Reply

    My father suddenly died last year at the age of 67. First thing my paternal Grandmother and my Mom did was press me about the details of his life insurance policy, of which it turned out only me and my brother were beneficiaries. Since then it’s like the only thing anyone ever wants to talk about. Money/how much did he leave behind/who gets what. I’m mad at the whole damn world. I go to bed angry. I wake up angry. Sometimes I go through the day angry; snapping at dumb little things. It’s like everyone including my husband seems to just expect me to go on like everything is normal. Everything is NOT normal and will never be again, not for me. Even my brother hardly missed a beat; as soon as the funeral was over he went on back living his life like nothing happened. I never hear from him. Some days things seem ok and then it hits me out of nowhere and all kinds of things pop up in my head: “Dad is gone. He’s gone and he’s not coming back. You are a bad daughter for not going to see him in his final days…” Two weeks before he passed I had a dream he had died. The morning he passed I knew something wasn’t right, and then I got the call. We were very close even though I hadn’t visited him for a few years because we lived in different states but always maintained regular contact. If I had known he was going to pass away so suddenly like he did, I would have made more of an effort. I just thought we had more time. That’s just it, isn’t it? We think our loved ones will live forever; we never believe that we could just up and lose any one of them forever. This kind of pain is the absolute pits and I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. It’s like being in Hell without the fire but the pain is very very real and it’s not something you can “heal from” or “get over”. You just learn to live with it. It’s the cruelest fact of life there is. And it absolutely sucks.

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    • Debbie  April 28, 2023 at 10:32 pm Reply

      It’s been two years since my only child passed, she was 34 and left three small children. They all loved with me , now noone does. I see them, not often enough, as I am at others mercies. I have become a very as angry person, I was never like this , well Im not angry at work, I guess my patience is short. I don’t like being thick way at all, any suggestions?
      Thanks

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  7. Suzanne  December 13, 2022 at 3:06 pm Reply

    My 44 year old son died of alcoholism on May 15, 2020, as COVID lockdown began. That was the final straw for him, as he was barely hanging on. His disease had progressed to the terminal stage. We had a very close relationship, which continued to his death. As happens with addiction, everyone else had turned their backs.

    There was no empathy for him, dead or alive. I have in words and actions received the same message from my two adult children, now 43 & 52, who have totally estranged themselves. They were not interested in participating in a service for their brother or have even visited the cemetery. I have not seen them, other than one superficial meeting with each of them post lockdown.

    My daughter, who is bipolar, is now totally estranged. Her husband verbally annihilated me via a lengthy phone call 18 months after my son’s death. Foolish me, in my shock at being so sadistically attacked, I froze …rather then hang up. I listened to every hateful judgement. Now, over a year later, I am haunted by his words, which pop up randomly and inevitably bring me to the depths of despair.

    My remaining son sends an occasional minimal text. No visits.
    My grandchildren are rapidly becoming strangers. No visits.

    The holidays are upon us and I am so deeply hurt at being abandoned by my living children. Over the years they have made it clear to expect little from them. Their threat being, “ nothing” was my other option. I have settled for crumbs for decades.

    I miss my deceased son terribly, he was my only child with a heart. I am waiting for anger to replace the paralysis I feel regarding my total dismissal as a mother and grandmother. I may not have been perfect but I was certainly not the monster they portray me as.

    Why does a tragic death blow up a family?. I understand addiction is a family disease and all are affected. I do not want to a victim or a martyr. I want to learn how to live my life in acceptance and peace, despite their statement,
    “It is irrelevant to us if you are dead or alive.”
    Devastating.

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  8. Broken Heart  November 10, 2022 at 8:15 pm Reply

    I’m feeling angry at what they call “family” because they are the reason of my grief. Due to greed of my two so called brothers, my Beloved Mother isn’t with me anymore, making me happy. Alleging good intentions, they moved us out of her house, put us in a horrible apartment, forget about my mother in there and then, she died. The real reason for the moving was to sell her house. I’m not ashamed to say that I hate them both and that I don’t want to see them again. I hope they suffer a lot when they are in their old age (why wait, I want them to suffer now). I’m sorry, Beautiful Mother, I failed to protect you from them. My heart is broken, sad and empty! 💔😥 I love and miss you so much!

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  9. Sandy  October 23, 2022 at 9:16 pm Reply

    I lost the love of my life, my husband five years ago,:my heart is so broken,my step kids horrible,,everyday is a struggle, I pray gods let’s me go home. Grief is such a hard road for every person that has suffered a loss,I pray for all of us.

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  10. Mary  October 16, 2022 at 9:53 am Reply

    I’ve written to you a couple of times regarding my 63 year old son dying of cancer. Well my precious son passed about 15 days ago. He lived in another state and although he asked to die without family there (except his wife) I was able to say goodbye on the phone, he died 25 minutes later. I have noticed I am angry because his siblings are not grieving as I expected them to. They are all just going on with their lives and talking about their next projects or what they are going to do soon. I feel betrayed and I feel like they did not love him enough to feel the loss intensely. I find myself struggling to talk to them even on the phone, they all live close by but I have not seen them because I choose not to at this time. Sometimes I long to see them but my anger at them keeps me from doing so. I love them there are three siblings, but I feel that they should not be getting on with their lives so soon. They are all unaware of how I feel. Somewhere in me I know my anger is not justified. Thank you for your blog.

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    • Patricia Cole  November 2, 2022 at 7:40 pm Reply

      Hi Mary,
      I would like to begin by thanking you for sharing your story and my heart goes out to you in the loss of your son. Your anger is completely justified and valid, just as any emotion that comes up for you surrounding your loss and grief is. One thing we know to be true about grief is that everyone goes about it in their own ways. I too have disagreed with how many of my friends and family behaved after a loss and have even felt anger. However, we must allow others to grieve in the ways that work for them and focus on providing ourselves with what we need. Many choose to carry on with their daily lives after a life changing loss in order to provide a sense of normalcy and routine in a time that is anything but normal. This very well may be what is happening with your children. There may come a point in time that you all can connect in your shared loss. Until then, I hope that you can give yourself all of the time and space you need to heal.
      Warmly,
      Patricia

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    • JP  December 8, 2022 at 7:36 pm Reply

      Dear Mary, I am so sorry for your loss. I know your children are getting on with their lives but, they did not lose a child they lost a sibling. They will feel that lose differently than you feel yours. And I dare say they didn’t have daily contact with their sibling. And they will feel that lose at different times (than the loss of a child) so they will grieve just at different times than a mother will. Please allow for that as much as you can in your grief. I am so sorry for you…perhaps his widow could use your sympathy if you have the energy to give it? Love you,
      JP

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  11. Samantha  September 22, 2022 at 9:24 pm Reply

    I had a miscarriage 4 days ago we were 14 weeks. I haven’t felt this much anger in a very long time and I know its fear but logic and reason are not helping at the moment. Tomorrow is my first OBGYN appointment since the ER and I’m very scared and I don’t want to be alone.

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  12. Breakfast Burrito  August 21, 2022 at 10:22 pm Reply

    I am angry with my SIL and parents-in-law bc they have not checked in on my mom/step-dad, older sister, or me since the death of my little sister last month. About ten years ago, my SIL had the same type of cancer that my sister passed away from (our dad also passed away from this cancer ~25 years ago), but I have not heard anything from her since Christmas when she yelled at my teenage son (long story).

    My in-laws all live in the same city one state away and have been in touch with their brother/son (my husband), but not communicated with me or any of my family, even though they are friends on social media and they have their phone numbers/addresses. I’m pretty much done with them. My husband says not to take it personally, but it’s hard not to when it’s not just me they’re ignoring. They haven’t even reached out to my mom, who is really struggling.

    My SIL dared to ask my husband for a cancer shirt that my little sister’s friend made for friends and family and some silicone bracelets my sister’s husband made, but hasn’t talked to our family at all to ask us for any of these things. She and I used to be close, but haven’t been for awhile.

    My MIL has Parkinson’s, so she almost gets a pass, but there is no excuse for my FIL and SIL and her family to not say anything to us. I am hurt and beyond angry. My family is large and has unfortunately had a lot of traumatic deaths, so we know how to show up for people when they are grieving. Their family just doesn’t get it.

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  13. Cindy  August 18, 2022 at 7:01 pm Reply

    My anger and bitterness are aimed at my sister.
    I lost my 28 year old autistic son just under a year ago.
    I stated ‘autistic’ because I was his sole caregiver. He was my whole life. It was just him and me for 14 years.
    He passed suddenly when his heart stopped while he slept. I was and still am devastated. My sister, who lives 12 hours away did come to the funeral. I have not seen her since. I hear from her (text) once a month or so. She offers no support. Just tells me I’m strong and I’ll get thru it. Never asks if there is anything she can do or if I need to get away to come visit her for awhile. While this angers me, it also hurts very deeply. She knows I am alone but doesnt seem to care. I’ve tried to let my expectations of others go. But she is my SISTER!! I have learned that people dont change even in the death of a child. Either she didnt value my sons life or she doesnt value mine. This just hurts.😞

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  14. Jane  August 8, 2022 at 6:08 am Reply

    Well I guess I found this article for a reason! I just finished writing my family a 15 page letter, pretty much writing them all off! Well all but my sisters who I get angry with also but not 15 pages angry! My #1 reason I get angry is when anyone asks me if I’ve started seeing a counselor yet! I snap every time and tell them let me grieve on my own terms and just because I talk about my moms sudden death does Not mean I need a counselor. I mean I know I likely do with all this new anger coming up but I also feel with everything that’s happened in the past 6 months since she passed I have the right to still be grieving and be angry! I feel the need to share the list…I lost my mom in dec suddenly and traumatically to covid, she fought a month in icu and I for sure have ptsd from the trauma! Then my dog who was about the only thing keeping me going and helping me cope with moms death, died 2 months after mom! he was a senior but all of a sudden got sick and was diagnosed with a super aggressive cancer and passed a few days later. I was a stay at home dog mom for the last 2 years. Thankfully his passing was peaceful which comforted me a tiny bit, moms was not peaceful in the least bit! So traumatizing! Then my aunt died, my dad got a blood clot in his lungs not long after his covid vaccine and now more recently a new clot, my sisters dog died, all I’n 3 months! Then my boyfriends mom has been fighting cancer but last month caught covid & is now on hospice, all the while I’ve been dealing with one sibling fighting addiction & haveing a super difficult time with the reality of losing mom, she went to rehab and came back & still dealing with it. Then to top it all off we have to get moms house ready to sell & going through all her belongings is so hard! It’s all so rushed & no one shows any compassion! The rest of the family aunts uncles and cousins are rushing us & asking what the hold up is, y is probate so slow & basically making me feel like we should be over it! It’s all so much! Oh and then I am having the hardest time trying to go see my boyfriends mom & the guilt is eating me alive! I went once lately and left crying it just brings up so much from mom and covid and it’s so hard seeing her now like this! So my anger is justified in my head. But after all this I guess that solves it…I need a counselor! Lol thanks for listening whoever reads this. I’ll be searching for a counselor this week.

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    • Litsa  August 8, 2022 at 6:45 am Reply

      Oh Jane, it sounds like you have so much on you! Please know that you can have a right to anger and also be able to see that some anger my be displaced from other complicated grief emotions – both can be true at once! I know if can be INFURIATING when people ask you if you have a counselor yet. It can feel like they don’t want to be present with your feelings or just want you to ‘get over it’. Sometimes that is part of it. But just as often it is that they see you are having so many emotions and they just want you to have the right support. But counseling has always had a stigma so it often feels like they are saying we’re broken. Grief is all about learning to live life after loss and learning how to have a relationship with someone who has died. That is hard work when you’re in the middle of all the painful emotions. When someone who loves you suggests counseling, I think it can be more helpful to thinking of it like if you said “I need to learn math for my new job” and they suggested you get a tutor or if you said “I want to run a marathon” and they suggested a personal trainer. A counselor isn’t some to fix you because you’re broken or to get you to stop feeling you’re feelings. They are someone to help and support you through it, to make life a bit easier when it feels hard and overwhelming.

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  15. Cindy  July 19, 2022 at 9:08 am Reply

    I lost my husband of 16 years almost 4 months ago. Friends have stopped checking in on me. I am very lonely. I was always the party planner, the one who organized events and I’m not up for that and I wish someone else would take the lead without me having to say it. I realize my friends miss my husband too but now I have a large house to manage along with going through all his things. Friends say call if you need help but I feel that is what everyone says.

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    • Lorraine  July 28, 2022 at 10:16 am Reply

      Yes…the classic “call if you need me” line. As if you have the mental bandwidth to even know what you want or need right now OR the energy to articulate it!! I am so sorry for your loss. And for all the secondary losses you are and are going to experience in the coming months. I have no way of helping you, being a complete stranger on the internet, but I hope someone in your life steps up and offers solid ideas on how they can help you.

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    • Riley  September 13, 2022 at 7:55 pm Reply

      Ya exactly! I hate the vague “I am here for you! seriously; if you need anything!” Comments. I feel like people say this almost as a knee-jerk reaction to anyone telling them they are going through a hard time. I never feel that when people make these statements they are actually being sincere and would ever actually step up. It’s as if they are aware that in your situation you are not going to be in the headspace to put yourself in the bold yet humbled position of brazenly reaching out to them to ask for “ANYTHING” when you and they all know that you won’t be reaching out because what you really want/ need at these times, no one can give to you.
      Watch what happens tho on the rare occasion you do say yes, I do need something. There is something you could do for me to help…. See how fast they come up with an excuse to get out of whatever it is, no matter how little an ask! it’s insane how selfish and also superficially fake some people really are. Tragedy and trauma r fast ways to reveal these types of ppl. Who’s gonna actually help u when u have nowhere else to turn and it doesn’t somehow simultaneously benefit them in some way to help another human being if only by or shining a big hypocritical spotlight on their innate “goodness”

  16. Jan R  July 18, 2022 at 11:14 pm Reply

    My 38 year old son died in March 2020 suddenly overnight. We were in lockdown so had no ability to mourn and grieve together. I grieved alone for months except for the occasional care visit. It was awful, overwhelming and cruel. By the Christmas of that year we could meet as a family but none of my relatives mentioned him. I was SO angry ! They said later they “ didn’t want to upset me” ! I found this response ridiculous as I’m the sort of person who prefers to talk about grief and remember my son . I experienced months of anger over lots of triggers in the first year or so of my grief.
    People as a whole find death so confronting it’s sad ! I have let go of friends during this time and still hardly anyone asks me about him. It’s like he never existed !

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    • Donna  August 22, 2022 at 2:18 pm Reply

      I can so relate to your post.I lost my mom in 2014 and my boyfriend in 2020.Grief has been so hard and I miss them both so much.I have not seen much family and barely heard from anyone after mom’s funeral.When I bring her up my brothers are mostly silent I do not have a sister.Now the first times I saw friends after my bf passed it was delayed dye ti covid.No one asked except one friend late in the visitI drove home crying and was too exhausted to go to work the next day.They did not have a clue how hard it was for me not having more support and compassion.And several are nurses like me.I know people grieve differently bu it hurts so much that I did not get more inquiries or support.I am hurt and angry and in disbelief.

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  17. Dian T  July 17, 2022 at 3:10 pm Reply

    One type of anger I struggle with (I’m not even sure it is anger) and haven’t seen discussed is anger at peoples lives going on, happy people, and so on. Of course I want them to be happy, I just have a hard time connecting, having things to talk about.

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    • Litsa  July 17, 2022 at 6:06 pm Reply

      This is definitely common and something we’ve talked about, though I don’t know that we have a whole article about it, but we talk about it here.
      https://whatsyourgrief.com/grief-made-me-feel-ugly/

      It also very much reminds me of the example someone shared here about her friends’ children and prom – both being happy for them, but also angry/resentful. It is such a complicated feeling!

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  18. Karen Traill  July 13, 2022 at 12:47 pm Reply

    I had started to go though the angry stage after my dad passed away, there are days when people really get on my nerves, i have someone who i work with seems to think i should be back on the work group chat, when i started to talk about my mental health she walked away and i thought she was a friend,

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  19. Catherine M. Agnello  July 12, 2022 at 8:10 pm Reply

    I lost my 28 year old son to undiagnosed diabetes on 1/20/21. since his funeral, his trans-masculine sibling has completely cut off contact with me. I am on a seesaw between grief over TWO losses and anger at my middle child. I have a therapist, but I have many days of despair. The huge irony is that this child is a clinical social worker. Physician, heal thyself…I have have stopped reaching out to my child in the hope that some day, they will come back to me. But, when there is no communication, all you have left is supposition and wild flights of the imagination.

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  20. Laura Ehret  July 12, 2022 at 5:47 pm Reply

    So what do I do in a situation where I am both grieving and the object of my grieving son’s anger? I lost my husband, and he lost his father. I would have said my son was closer to me, but he is so angry with me he hasn’t talked to me in months. He won’t go to family counseling.

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    • Litsa  July 13, 2022 at 11:33 am Reply

      Laura, I am so incredibly sorry. Unfortunately, we can’t control someone else’s grief or anger. What may help is getting support around the added ambiguous loss of not having your son. That is a very real and significant loss, though not a death. Figuring out what you can do to care and tend to yourself within that, and figure out if there are small hopes that may exist as he has the time to process his own grief. I am not sure if you have a counselor yourself, but this is a lot to cope with. A counselor might be really helpful to think of how you can help yourself. And though your son might not be open to ongoing family therapy, sometimes it is easier for family to agree to a one-time visit together to your therapist.

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  21. Bill m  July 12, 2022 at 5:33 pm Reply

    My wife ‘s son Cody who was in the Army committed suicide two years ago. I was very close to him but in reality I am his step dad. Her grief was insane. She was all over the board the first year. You couldn’t say or suggest anything. I tell people who want to help that I just love her. The Vicki I knew is gone, the new Vicki is trying to find her place just be nice.

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  22. Sylvia C  July 12, 2022 at 2:59 pm Reply

    I learned this morning that I was again facing a breast cancer diagnosis. When I expressed anger to someone she told me being angry didn’t solve anything. Got angrier lol….
    Not the first insensitive comment from her but maybe one of the last….

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    • Selma acevedo  February 10, 2023 at 7:07 am Reply

      Sylvia C – So sorry.

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