Relationship Grief Stage 2: Anger - 3 Steps to Deal With It

How to find a psychologist that's right for you

Relationship Grief Stage 2: Anger

In one of our previous articles, we began exploring the five stages of relationship grief by looking at denial as the first stage of the process.

Even though the pain associated with loss seems unbearable and unacceptable, as weeks go by, you begin to realise that the person you loved isn’t coming back. This harsh truth will bring about wave after wave of frustration.

In other words, you’re slowly transitioning from “This can’t be happening to me!” to “Why is this happening to me!?

“Why me!? It’s not fair!”

During this second stage of relationship grief, the numbing effect of denial wears off, creating enough space for pain to rush to the surface.

Since you’re not yet ready to accept the reality of losing your significant other, you feel angry at them. Depending on the circumstances of your breakup, your mind will find a million reasons to blame them for all the emotional turmoil that you’re experiencing.

Maybe you’re angry because they betrayed you, or perhaps you’re mad at how they treated you throughout the relationship.

Maybe you were the victim of their emotional abuse, or perhaps you’re frustrated at their complete lack of empathy and understanding.

The point is, when anger and frustration ‘take the wheel,’ your mind will gradually find all sorts of events and experiences that reinforce this feeling, regardless of how irrational and blown out of proportion they may seem.

If you’ve lost your significant other to illness and death, the ‘anger’ stage looks a bit different. In other words, since you can’t blame them for your loss, you begin to lash out at other people. You honk insistently at the driver who cuts you off, yell at the cashier because they’re taking too long, and drive your friends away with your unpredictable attitude or behaviour.

On the one hand, you know this attitude is problematic, and you try to control your anger as best as you can. On the other hand, you need to blame someone for the injustice you feel was done to you, so you project all your anger on whoever gets in your way.

What you need to remember is that anger is a sign of suppressed emotions. Deep down, you’re probably experiencing helplessness, sadness, regret, and a whole lot of emotional pain.

Here’s how you can navigate the ‘anger’ stage:

1. Know your triggers

Take a moment to think about situations, contexts, and topics of conversation that can trigger anger and frustration. Maybe you’re triggered by the restaurant where the service was slow. Or perhaps you’re triggered by a social media post, which is close to your heart.

Knowing your triggers is the first step in getting a handle on frustration and anger.

2. Take a deep breath, exhale, repeat

Whenever you feel anger bubbling up on the surface of your mind, stop from whatever it is that you’re doing at that moment, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and exhale slowly.
That way, you give your mind enough time to process whatever triggered you and develop an alternative response.

3. Give voice to your frustration

Beneath all that anger and rage is a whole range of painful emotions that you refuse to acknowledge and accept.

Although it may be quite challenging, try to understand what’s really causing you to lash out at people.

Talk to someone who listens and understands what you’re going through; a friend, family member, or grief counsellor or psychologist.

Stay tuned for part three of our series.

Please note that the information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and should not substitute professional medical or mental health advice. If you or someone you know is in immediate distress or needs assistance, please reach out to a mental health professional or helpline in your country or state.

About the editor, Amelia Cambrell

My name is Amelia and I'm a Senior Psychologist at Counselling in Melbourne. I have over 18-years of experience in the mental health space. I am very driven to get the best outcomes for my clients which can be long lasting by using a range of modalities such as CBT. There is nothing more satisfying than helping adolescents, adults and couples who are feeling confused, frustrated, stuck or overwhelmed, to find more clarity, confidence and happiness in their lives.

Find out more about Amelia Cambrell

How to find a psychologist that's right for you

Take the first step - speak with a psychologist today

call 1300967734
Scroll to Top

Download your free eBook

How to find a Psychologist that's right for you.

Healing emotional pain: 10-week program

Please select your location

Melbourne CBD

903 – 530 Little Collins St Melbourne CBD, VIC 3000

Glen Waverley

861B Waverley Road, Glen Waverley, VIC 3150 (second level)


Shop 4, 860 Collins St Docklands, VIC 3081

Online appointment

Online Counselling sessions are available.