Many Wrongful Death Survivors Wonder If The Anger Ever Goes Away

Anger from a wrongful deathFive to nine percent of the U.S. population loses a close family member each year, according to WebMD. When a loved one is taken in tragic and unforeseen circumstances, there is often overwhelming grief and other uncontrollable emotions.

When the death is a wrongful death which has occurred due to someone’s negligence or inaction, grief can become more complicated. It can turn to anger and despair and a family can literally be torn apart as grieving can last many years in some cases.

Anger is one of the five traditional stages of grief typically experienced by suffering adults. The stages of grief were identified by Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in her 1969 book, “On Death and Dying.” Since then Kubler-Ross’ research on grief has been recognized and applied worldwide. Although the stages do not necessarily occur in a specific order with each individual, Anger is often the second stage following Denial, a time when the survivor cannot even acknowledge that the death has occurred.

In the Anger stage, people often ask, “Why me?” and look for someone or something else to blame. This stage of grief can last longer than many of the other stages and may be revisited many times throughout the grieving process. The grieving person may lash out in frustration at friends and loved ones who are trying to help them recover from their profound sadness. Anger may also manifest in an inability to think clearly, in murderous impulses, in a loss of control, powerlessness, fear, survival guilt (why am I still here?), rage, a sense of vulnerability or several of these emotions at once. It is also not uncommon to attempt to bargain with a higher power during this stage.

Anger and Wrongful Death

In the case of wrongful death, it’s also tempting to vocalize anger and bitterness on anyone indirectly or directly involved with the cause of the death rather than focusing on moving toward a state of healing or Acceptance, a later stage of grief identified by Kubler-Ross.

If your loved one died from a work injury, such as electrocution or a malfunction of machinery, and it is clear the workplace accident could have been prevented, it is difficult not to be angry with the management of the company or the person responsible for making sure the rules were followed and machinery was properly maintained. A survivor can’t help thinking if that person in charge had done one or two simple things differently, their family member could still be alive.

In 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 134 workers were killed when they were exposed to electricity on the job. Many were wrongful death situations.

The type of anger which can target an employer is often termed justifiable anger and that kind of anger may not be resolved until justice is sought concerning the circumstances of the death. In fact, feelings of depression can be heightened if family and friends of the deceased do not take some kind of action to address the negligent action responsible for the death of their loved one.

Possible Solutions to Acute Grief

Sometimes it may seem as though the anger may never go away, that it is consuming and becoming a harmful distraction in the life of the survivor.

Grief experts say that about 40% of those dealing with the loss of a loved one experience anxiety-related illness in the year following the death. Still others suffer from severe physical or mental stress and another group of individuals are unable to deal with events or holidays that trigger memories of the deceased person. If you are in this category, it may be time for a grief counselor or a grief support group, or both.

A grief counselor may direct you to a grief support group made up of people who have suffered a fate similar to yours. Perhaps you and another person in the group have lost a child or spouse to a drunk driver. Grief support group members will listen to expressions of anger, guilt, remorse, even hatred—things you have difficulty discussing with people who have not been through a similar experience.

The most important thing you may gain by attending a support group is that you will learn what you’re feeling is normal and that others share those feelings. You’ll have an opportunity to talk about the person you have lost. The group, if it is the right support group, will not judge you and may discuss ways to begin healing.

If you don’t know where to find a group, contact your local hospital, a church or a community organization.

Giving Children Guidance

Children and teenagers undergo intense feelings of grief, anger and loneliness when they lose someone they are close to. Lack of maturity and life experience can make young people feel powerless in the midst of overwhelming grief. A wrongful death is painful for everyone in the family, but adults need to help children deal with mourning even when they are grieving also.

Here are some ideas to help get through this experience provided by helpguide.org/mental/grief loss.

1. Recognize that anger is one of the steps of a healthy grieving process.
At the same time it is important to realize that hate and intense anger need to run their course, but that nurturing feelings of animosity can prevent healing. Although you may be going through intense emotions yourself, try to express extra affection and patience with your children during this time. If the situation becomes overwhelming, consider having them speak with a therapist.

2. Maintain your normal schedule.
Consistency will provide needed security. Your children need to know what to expect at all times and if parenting behavior becomes unpredictable, their emotional struggle may increase. Be willing to adjust during the grieving process. One child may exhibit a need for extra rest, for example.

3. Don’t hide your own grief.
Teach your children that everyone grieves differently and listen patiently when they tell you what they are feeling. Let them know their emotions are perfectly normal and acceptable. Try to make sure they are not feeling isolated.

4. Communicate openly with children and teens about any wrongful death lawsuits.
Explain to them that the pursuit of justice can help with your family’s healing. Tell them you have spoken with a personal injury attorney about preventing other fatal accidents (or whatever has happened) from occurring.

Tell them nothing can change what happened and bring your loved one back but that you can help protect other families from a terrible experience. Help the children understand why you are taking the steps you are and ask them what they think about it. Make them feel involved in the justice process without overwhelming them with feelings of responsibility and unnecessary stress.

Should You Pursue a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Wrongful death can be a very complex subject due to the many types of damages involved and you will likely need to consult with an experienced wrongful death lawyer to determine what basis you may have to take action. The personal representative of the deceased’s estate must file the action.

Our law firm has experienced wrongful death attorneys who can help you. You can contact us at 1-888-459-0765.

We also offer a FREE book, A Wrongful Death in Ohio: Actions Families Can Take After the Wrongful Death of a Loved One which you can request simply by calling the firm, or sending us a website message. The book will help you understand the many facets of wrongful death and the laws on this subject in Ohio.

Another important thing to remember is Ohio’s Statute of Limitations for wrongful death. It is two years from the date of death, or from discovery of the person’s cause of death, or upon discovery of the defendant’s negligent conduct. This means that the case must be settled or filed in court within this time or the claim is no longer valid.

It may seem like a lot of time, but you do not want to delay. There is a great deal to be accomplished for a successful claim.

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