Coping with anger while grieving

If the death of someone you love has left you feeling angry or bitter, you might find it helpful to try the following techniques.

Consider it. Is anger a stand-in for more painful emotions, or does the situation warrant it? Do you feel abandoned or afraid? If so, could you enlist support from others or spend some time thinking about your fears and putting them to rest? It might help to share your feelings in a grief support group and learn how others have dealt with similar feelings.

Express it. Set aside a safe time and place each day to defuse angry feelings. Some people yell in the car with the windows rolled up. Some find stress-relief techniques like meditation or yoga helpful. Others find release in punching pillows or in spurts of strenuous activity. Think about options for releasing anger, and plan how to express it safely when it crops up. Sometimes writing about situations that make you feel angry can help you focus on what you are really feeling beneath your anger.

Explain it. Tell others how short-fused you are right now. If you know you stepped over the line, apologize. Most people will make allowances.

For more on dealing with grief, read Grief and Loss: A guide to preparing for and mourning the death of a loved one, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.