I grew up in a house of emotionless beings. There was a scarcity of extreme reactions to anything. Emotions seemed to be secreted away inside ourselves and never allowed out to “play”.  In the 60s, life revolved around the practicalities of living, not emotions.  Teachers ruled with an iron fist. You learnt by rote and punishment. You spoke only when spoken to. You never talked back.  You never showed emotion. You certainly never got angry.

Imagine my surprise then with the onslaught of emotions that assailed me with the death of my son. Anger seeped out of my pores. It assaulted my very being.  I remember the anger sitting in my belly like a heavy lead weight.  Expressing anger was incredibly alien to me but I knew that I had to get that emotion out of my body or it was literally going to eat me up.

I remember this night so well. It was blowing a gale when my eldest son and I went up to an isolated hill in the town where we lived.  We both needed to let off a bit of steam. The wind was howling around us as we started to scream and yell.  Almost simultaneously, I picked up a stick and began smashing it against a boulder nearby.

I was SO angry. How could this have happened? It was so unfair! I swore, ranted and raved about the injustice of it all for a long long time.  We returned home feeling better, the lead weight had become a little less in my belly.

That was the first occasion I expressed my anger in that way.  During the months and years following, I discovered that anger seems to be an easy companion to grief.  The focus of my anger was directed mainly at the omnipotent being who had allowed this to happen. Then surprisingly I became angry with my son for leaving me. It became a yoyo between the two for a while.

Over time and by allowing my anger expression, the intensity of it changed.  I am no longer totally enraged in the way I once was.  The anger has drained away from my body, petering out to very little.

I interviewed Andrea Reed recently. One of her key messages to someone who is grieving was “It’s OK to be angry”.  It is. Anger is a normal human emotion and is very common in grief.  It’s not ok, though to to internalise your anger such that it becomes self-destructive. Nor is it ok to hurt others when you are angry.  Try using these ideas to express your anger in a healthy way.

10 Ways to Get Your Anger Out

1.     Shout it out
2.     Write it out
3.     Punch it out – rocks, punching bags, pillows
4.     Exercise it out – running, kick boxing, power walking, mowing the      lawn
5.     Paint your anger onto a canvas
6.     Drum it out
7.     Talk it out with someone who is supportive
8.     Chop wood
9.     Hammer nails into a board
10.    Scrub floors

Maureen Hunter 2011

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Maureen Hunter

In 2006, Maureen Hunter was working in a small country town in Western Australia. It was a day like any other. That night her 18-year-old son was critically injured in a car accident, dying five days later in hospital. That experience was to change her life forever. Working for many years as a Registered Nurse in acute care settings and palliative care, as well as losing both her parents to cancer, Maureen believed she understood what grief was. That was until she lost her youngest son. Reeling from that sudden and devastating loss, she spent a month away to process her grief and allow herself some healing time. During long periods of contemplation and reflection, it became very clear to her then that she would use her own experience of grief to help others. Maureen is now committed to doing just that through her website, www.esdeer.com. She provides comfort, hope and inspiration through her writings and Stepping through Grief resources and programs. She writes regularly on grief, healing, resilience and spirituality and is the creator of “Stepping through Grief: the 7 Steps Pathway,” a step-by-step process which helps individuals step through grief to find meaning in their lives once more. Recently interviewed on blog talk radio, Maureen shares her experiences of grief openly with others and is passionate about using her own experience to make a difference to those struggling with the loss of a loved one. She is a regular contributor to The Compassionate Friends local newsletter as well as being a phone contact in her local area for bereaved parents, siblings and grandparents. Living in the beautiful southwest wine region of Western Australia with her partner, Maureen enjoys the magic of sandy white beaches, ocean waves and a glass of chilled white wine. She says, “In nature, my soul is stilled and I find in times of contemplation my creativity emerges. If what I write and share with others, helps them in any way, then that is what matters most to me, that is what inspires and motivates me. As I enjoy the inherent beauty of this part of the world, I know that Stuart is there with me, by my side, guiding and supporting.” If grief has touched your life, or someone you know, please accept this FREE inspirational guide with my love: “Opening the Door to Hope….Helping you Step through Grief" at www.esdeer.com/hope For more information about Maureen’s Stepping through Grief resources and programs, visit www.esdeer.com

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