Anger - Five Stages of Grief
While everyone processes loss in their own unique way, there are some elements of grief that are universal. In her groundbreaking 1969 book, “On Death and Dying,” Elisabeth Kübler-Ross outlines the Five Stages of Grief, a model designed to help explain the phases and emotions that people experience when confronting the passing of a loved one (or when faced with their own terminal illness). The second stage of this process is known as the anger stage, and is discussed in more detail below.
Table of Contents
- What is the anger stage of grief?
- What causes the anger stage of grief?
- How long does the anger stage of grief last?
- What happens after the anger stage of grief?
What is the Anger Stage of Grief?
While it’s important to note that not everyone experiences every stage of grief (or experiences them in a different order), Kübler-Ross’s model identifies anger as the second stage of the grief process. It comes after the denial stage, during which a person may still be in a state of some emotional disbelief that a loss has occurred. Once the reality of the situation sets in, however, many people feel a sense of anger and frustration with their situation - and that anger can take many forms. It can be directed toward the person who has passed away for leaving them behind, or toward doctors and nurses for not being able to save someone. Depending on the cause of their loved one’s death, people may feel angry at themselves for not doing more to prevent the loss from occurring. They might direct their anger at those who have been lucky enough not to experience such deep pain. And still others may be angry at God or the universe for dealing them (and their loved one) such a difficult blow.
What causes the Anger Stage of Grief?
While the anger one feels during this stage of the grieving process might not always be logical, it’s perfectly natural. After a traumatic event such as the death of a loved one, anger is a way of redirecting the feelings of powerlessness or lack of control that someone is experiencing. It also offers an opportunity to release the deep emotions that a person may have avoided or kept suppressed during the denial stage - a way to finally allow them to come to the surface. Of course, it’s important for these feelings of anger to be managed in a way that is not self-destructive or harmful to others. Healthy ways to cope with grief-related anger include exercise, creative hobbies such as painting or music and seeking support from friends and family.
How long does the Anger Stage of Grief last?
This is a difficult question to answer, because grief affects people in many different ways. For some, the anger may only last a few days. For others, it lingers longer. It’s crucial to have patience during this stage; trying to ignore or avoid your feelings of anger (or to feel guilty for experiencing them) will only prolong the healing process.`
If you feel as though you are struggling to progress beyond the anger phase and you’re worried about the effect that your anger is having on yourself or others, consider speaking to a mental health professional, who can provide you with some of the advice and tools you need to move forward constructively.
What happens after the Anger Stage of Grief?
Once the anger subsides, the next stage as identified by Kübler-Ross in the Five Stages of Grief is the bargaining stage, In this phase, people try to regain control over the situation by imagining “what-if” scenarios or by offering a “deal” of sorts (often to God or a higher power) in exchange for a more positive outcome. While the bargaining in this phase isn’t necessarily realistic (nor does this phase always follow anger), it is seen as a natural step along the journey to acceptance of a loss.
The information provided above is not meant to replace expert medical or mental health advice. If you or someone you love is having difficulty coping with loss, please reach out to a qualified mental health professional.
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