Always Angry since Mother Died

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

My mom passed away in April from brain cancer. Through the whole year before she passed away, I was in complete denial(I’m 20) The day she passed away it was just a huge shock to me even though I knew about 3 weeks before that she was at her end and she could pass away any day from then. After she passed away, I just went into shock, but then days later went to slowly being okay and acting normal in front of others and returning to college.

Something I noticed though since then is that I can’t control my anger at all since she passed away. I feel so unstable. I can go from being happy and in an okay mood to completely angry and wanting to be alone the next moment. My emotions feel like they’ve been on a roller coaster since that day. I’ve been spending a lot lately on just shopping or doing things to keep my mind off of everything and try to stay happy, but it’s only a temporary fix and I go back to just being annoyed. It’s like the smallest things annoy me lately and I’m taking it out on everyone around me. It’s so out of character for me since I’m actually really cheerful and usually all upbeat. How can I get this to stop?

A: I’m so sorry for your loss. There is no good time to lose a mother but some times are tougher than others. At just 20, you are just coming into your own adulthood. It’s a time when mothers and daughters often draw closer. You are aware of all that the two of you are going to miss sharing – your successes, perhaps a marriage and children. Of course you are mad and sad and don’t want to deal with it.

As you are finding, though, there is no way around the grieving process. You can’t somehow bypass it. You can’t avoid it or make it go away. The only way to resolve it is by embracing it. You need to do that for yourself. And – I suspect – it’s what your mother would want you to do. She wouldn’t want you to be stuck in this angry, unstable place. She would want you to remember the good times you had and the wisdom she did her best to share.

Please consider seeing a therapist a grief counselor or a clergyperson to help you. If you could have managed the grieving on your own you would have done so. There is no shame in having someone to guide you and support you along the way. Many hospitals and hospice organizations also sponsor grief support groups for people who share in this experience. People who are going through the same kind of thing will understand. Supporting others who are supporting you will also help your feel better.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 4 Aug 2013

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2013). Always Angry since Mother Died. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/08/04/always-angry-since-mother-died/