Anger is an overwhelming emotion at times. If we don't keep it in check it will consume us like a deadly cancer. Anger is a normal stage in grief, and as most of us know, we go in and out of stages for varying periods of time. While we all know how devastating depression can be on us, we often times forget about just how destructive anger can be.
Many people experience anger toward the loved one whom we lost. For me, I have been angry at Jared for taking his life, for leaving me alone, for not being here with me, for hurting his friends, for.....well many things. I have also been angry at those who continued to stand in the way of my son healing healthy after the loss of his father less than four years prior. I have been angry at God. I have been angry at myself. I have just been angry.
What I realized, and come to understand through my loss, is anger can call you to action or destroy you. It is your choice.
If you choose to let anger destroy you, most likely you will take others down with you. You can let it consume you to the point of becoming physically ill. You can become so focused on control of things and people around you that you forget to love those around you. Anger can drive those that love you the most away.
One of the issues born from anger that we see more of today, especially in schools, is bullying. Those who are angry within and have not been taught how, or not supported in, processing and releasing anger in a healthy manner can turn to being the bully. It is especially common with boys. They are taught to show no emotions and not to talk about problems. So they keep it inside. Unfortunately, we are all like a balloon, we can only hold so much before we pop. We must learn and teach our children to release those emotions in healthy, constructive ways.
We have seen the news where angry individuals walk into schools, churches, movie theaters and other public locations and kill or harm many individuals there. Innocent people hurt because of unresolved, uncontrolled anger. Many of the stories of those who do such heinous crimes, we later learn, had been suffering from a mental illness of some sort that had gone untreated. That mental illness could be depression, anxiety, self-esteem, or more severe illnesses like clinical depression, schizophrenia, or any number of other illnesses.
The first step in all of this is to stop the stigma! Stop joking about mental illnesses.
Reach out for help when needed and support those around you who are wanting to reach out for help. Don't discourage them in fear of embarrassment. If someone near you needs help then encourage and support them to seek professional help.
Anger can also call you to action. Many times amazing charities are born out of anger towards a problem. This happened with me. Jared's friends were angry at losing teens to suicide and together we started Jared's Keepers Foundation, Inc. We put our anger to work to solve a problem that we didn't see much help for. The problem of teen suicide. Many other wonderful organizations have come from the same anger channel. Many people have come to volunteer at organizations and help others from their anger at a problem. MADD was born out of anger toward the problem of drunk driving. Motivational speakers have turned anger into inspiration. Others use the anger they have inside to drive them to success in life. Astronaut Story Musgrave is a testament to this. He lost both parents and a brother to suicide and used all that anger to drive him to success in life.
In grief, there are no easy answers, especially when it comes to anger. We each have a choice. What is yours?