Grief Complications and
Tips for Help


Anger follows the permanent loss as if instinctively.  Anger is the drive and energy which "eggs on" the survivor to continue the search and fight against the loss.  Anger demands, "Don't give up.  Overcome all obstacles that come in the way of finding your loved one."  Anger also results from the unsucessful efforts to recover the lost person which only frustrate the survivor.  Since anger is intended to fulfill the function of recovering the loved one, as long as anger is dominant, the loss is not accepted as a permanent loss and the hope still lingers on for a reunion with the lost person. 

So here is a red flag for watching someone who is going through the grieving, "If the intense anger and resentment persist beyond the first few months of the loss, the mourning may not be following the normal course."  It may be the time for consultation with a counselor who has expertise in grief work as well as in the clinical disorders.  When grief is intense, there is a fine line between the complicated grief and the clinical disorder.  This is more likely to happen in a person who has a tendency to develop an emotional disorder.  Many grief counselors who are inexperienced in the clinical matters, may overlook the need for an intervention when it goes beyond the boundary of the normal grief while many clinicians who are inexperienced in the workings of grief, may misinterpret a grief reaction as sign of an emotional disorder.

The anger may be directed toward self, the lost person, the doctor, relatives, God, and sometimes even unknown people.  There may not be any rational reasons for this anger.  Survivors may investigate over and over again every detail of the events that transpired around the loss and  ruminate over how to redress or even get revenge for the wrong done towards them and their loved one.  These behaviors should diminish in a few months.  Note that in a normal grief process, sudden outbursts of anger are common in the first few weeks after the loss and may recur with intensity on anniversaries and holidays for years.  

The friends and relatives who soothe and comfort the survivor, or Hospice volunteers who attend the survivor, can help survivors btter by understanding that their striving for reunion is intense during this phase of bereavement.  To insist on acceptance of the loss, at this stage, is likely to be resented by the survivor.  Anyone who suggests acceptance of the loss or rejection of the wish for reunion is likely to fall out of favor of the survivor.  We can help a survivor far more effectively if we just listen sympathetically, and stay neutral.  Psychologically speaking, at this stage the survivor is not seeking comfort from others, but assistance towards reunion.  It is this wish of the survivor rather than the regrets that play a dominant role here.  So, when survivors meet friends and relatives crying, they, at a psychological level, are asking them for their help to regain the lost person.  The advice given to friends, relatives, and volunteers is to understand this need and not become impatient or protest against it.  

Outbursts of anger and accusations erupt from the deep and pervasive sadness.  Angry eruptions are like the thunder and lightning in the dark clouds of sadness and grief.  While these outbursts are the expressions of the urge to seek and reunite with the lost person, the deep sadness is the realization that reunion is not possible and the hope and the wish for such a reunion must be relinquished.  As the conflict between these two forces becomes intensely painful, the bereaved may oscillate between the attempts to treasure the reminders of the lost person and to be rid of them the next moment .  Survivors may seek out others to talk about the lost person and at other times totally dread any such opportunity.  There may be a strong urge to visit the places where they and their loved one had been together and at other times a dread to even go in that direction.  Survivors may refuse to go to the bedroom which was once shared with the loved one, and other times feel impelled to just stay there, reluctant to get out.  Finding a way to reconcile these two conflicting urges, that is, to approach or to avoid, paves the way for the next phases of the "despair" and the "adaptation."  

How the survivor responds to the condolences tells how grieving is progressing.  A grateful acceptance of the spoken condolences indicates that the survivor is working through the grief satisfactorily.  On the other hand, an injunction never to refer to the loss suggests that the grief may not be following the normal course.  

Return to Self Help 

Copyright 1996, Mind Publications 


Click for Dr. Sharma's credentials
Dr. Vijai Sharma
Your Life Coach
By Telephone

Feedback- Let us know how we are doing

Terms and Conditions

Web site designed and maintained by Chanda Taylor