Written by Clara Hinton
Experiencing the pain of child loss brings about many changes in a parent’s life. Quite often we will think that a parent who has lost a child acts like someone we no longer know. In all truthfulness, child loss does change a parent. One change that is very common is the way anger can overtake a parent who is in the throes of grief from experiencing the death of a child.
An angry heart is a very common response to child loss. Anger can invade a normally quiet, agreeable person, turning him into a very vocal, disagreeable person. A mother who has just experienced a miscarriage, for instance, might lash out in anger to every pregnant woman she sees. She might be short tempered, wishing she never had to lay eyes on anyone pregnant.
Anger is very common in grieving parents, especially around the holidays. It is difficult enough for a parent to deal with the everyday ebb and flow of life following the death of a child. But, it becomes extremely difficult to handle the holidays for a parent whose heart has just been dealt the heavy blow of child loss. A family can expect parents to lash out and act like they are mad at the world, especially during the first Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year following the death of their child. It takes a long time to adjust to the pain of child loss.
What is this anger all about? Anger is a normal grief response. Parents feel anger that their child had to be the one that died. Often parents are angry that they were given a life, only to have it snatched away so quickly, such as with a miscarriage or a stillborn.
It is normal for parents to feel angry when they see other parents with several children, and their only child has died. Parents may get very angry when family and friends don’t acknowledge their child’s death. Parents feel very angry to have been given such a load of unfair pain.
What should a family’s reaction be to a grieving parent who displays anger? It is very important to continuously remember that the anger is only temporary. It is a necessary part of working through grief. By displaying patience to a parent in grief, you can help to calm an angry heart.
Parents don’t like to fly off the handle at every little thing. It’s no fun to feel mad at the world. But, a heart that hurts from the inside out will often feel a great deal of anger. Sometimes there is even a great deal of anger with God for taking away their child. This, too, is quite normal.
By recognizing anger as a necessary part of grief, you can overlook a lot of what grieving parents say during their angry outbursts. By remembering that this anger often surprises the parent as much as it surprises others, you can offer patience and understanding during this time of need.
By remembering that this anger is not directed at you, but is the result of a broken heart, you can overlook unkind and often outlandish statements as all being part of a parent’s grief. When you extend love and understanding, you allow parents to vent, and help them move forward in their difficult journey of grief.
Anger is a passing phase of grief. It is to be expected, and will not last forever. Reassure parents that you are still there for them, that you still love them, and that you are not upset with them. Remind yourself often that angry outbursts are nothing more than cries of pain from child loss.