I read a recent survey which suggested that half of Americans are angrier than they were last year. White Americans are angrier than blacks and women are angrier than men. The anger has to do with disappointment over things not being the way they want them to be. Women are angrier not only because of the way they are treated but because their empathy makes them feel for the way others are mistreated as well.

The survey also found that those who read something several times a day or week that makes them angry are angrier than those who don’t. Those who read anger provoking things less frequently are not as angry.

Now, we know that anger is frequently a response to threat. So, if people are responding with anger to what they read, what they read threatens something they think is important. It often threatens our sense of security, our sense of justice, our sense of what is right or wrong. I therefore think this survey suggests that people are also MORE AFRAID this year than they were a year ago.

This makes me think about how much our media saturated lives are manipulated by that which is that which is out of our control. If I not only read the news headlines and react to something that is happening in the world, but I am constantly reading of that which angers other people on my social media tree, I can find myself easily sucked into fear, anger and despair.

Therefore, I think we all might have a little more positive outlook on life if we were to consume less digital data. I am not suggesting that stick our heads in the sand, but I am suggesting that we don’t need to consume everyone’s distress several times a day. If we are not always reacting to our friends’ fears, maybe we would have more emotional energy to volunteer our time and gifts to organizations that work to overcome fear and threat. That way we can share the light of hope and courage and contribute to a less fearful world.


I got a pneumonia shot today. I didn’t cry. So, I thought, “I’ll get myself an ice cream cone.”  And I did.

How did those things ever get connected in my mind? Why did I think I should get an ice cream because I got a shot—and did not cry?  Is it deep in my childhood memory? Was I rewarded for not crying when I was in pain?

I am not sure, but I have heard of such a thing. We often reward children if they don’t cry. Or, we sometimes shame them if they do. When a child gets hurt, we sometimes say, “There, there, don’t cry.  It’ll be all right.” (As if the fact that it will be all right makes the pain any less intense.)

Why do we teach children to hold in their tears when they are hurt? Is it because we don’t like the sound of crying? Is it because we don’t want them to hurt and we can pretend it doesn’t hurt if they are not crying? Is it because we feel powerless to fix their problem?  Probably these and many other reasons explain our efforts.

But, I wonder what this conditioning does to us when we become adults and do not feel that we have permission to cry when we hurt.  What does this way of dealing with tears of children contribute to the inability of many people to express their painful emotions? 

Tears are a gift. They reflect our being in touch with primary feelings such as pain or hurt or sadness.  If we do not express these softer and more honest feelings, they can often get twisted and become hardened and then channeled as anger or aggression toward others. Tears help us release the tension that we often feel when we are overcome with stress or too many painful circumstances.

So, maybe we could try something to help us adults express our more primary feelings.  Maybe we could get an ice cream cone when we give in to the sadness and cry. 


Grieving significant loss can be a long and arduous journey. That is why many people try simply to "get over it." But, it is my belief that grieving loss is an opportunity for self-discovery that ought not be missed. When we lose someone who has been critical to our self-understanding and self-identity, our lives are broken open. It is like an earthquake has severed the ground and suddenly you can see the life that was lived centurys ago in the striations of the earth.  

And grieving is a journey in which we can explore dimensions of life that we may have simply ignored before. The journey of grieving, that is, the journey toward creative new life, is learning to live again in the absence of someone or something significant. Therefore, it does have pain and anger because our sense of self, our sense of what is right, may be threatened. By feeling our pain and anger, we see more clearly what we value. 

The journey is also filled with remembrances.  When we lose something that we value, we often spend time remembering it. Telling stories of the recently deceased is a way of re-membering that person within our heart.  They are no longer here the way they were, so we need to create an internal presence by conversation and story-telling. This includes rehearsing the loss, the pain and the anger, all part of the experience. By remembering well we see more clearly the gifts that life has given to us. 

Loss almost always sends us looking for someone or something to blame. Sometimes we blame ourselves for not doing enough, or sometimes we blame others for doing something to make it happen.  Guilt is related to our effort to make some sense out of life.  When we go on this journey of grieving, we try to reconstruct a meaningful world in which our life makes sense.

But, those who learn to live again in the absence of someone or something significant eventually learn to forgive the past for not being permanent. When life is good, we want it to keep going.  It is painful when it doesn't. That pain can lock us in the past. Forgiving is what frees us from the power of the pain of the past to control our future.  It is what opens us up to the energy to embrace what new life and gifts come to us.

In the moments when the forgiving spirit visits us, we discover that we are imagining and playing with new ways of living. We are exploring new practices that will help us figure out the future we will embrace.  We experiment and discover the adventure of new relationships and opportunities.

The journey of grief is painful and challenging. But, it can be an opportunity for self-growth and an opportunity for discovering new dimensions of the self.


Sometimes it takes a while to figure out how to live in a painful situation.  Katrina Kenison had a groin injury. She was a daily runner and when this happened to her, she could not run. It not only effected her physical health, but her emotional and psychological health. She taught yoga but the injury kept her from sitting positions that helped her center and know the peace she desired. She hurt whenever she did little things like dressing herself or getting in and out of her car.

Then one day when she went out to try to walk, she stopped.  She tightened up in anger when the pain came, but then she stopped herself and said, "soften, soften, soften." And then taking very small steps very slowly, she began to relax.  Her muscles eased some.  She said,  For weeks, I realized, I’d been angry.  Perhaps moving forward really meant moving beyond that impotent, helpless anger and surrendering instead to everything I couldn’t fix or control.  I’d been annoyed at my body for letting me down; why not be grateful to it for still holding me up? I’d been disappointed by my failure to cope with grace; why not acknowledge that I’d done the best I could? I’d been secretly disgusted at myself for not being invincible; why not yield at last to my own tender humanness?

I can identify with this experience. When I am ill or injured, I am not much fun to be around.  I get angry at my limitations. I get angry at myself for not being able to resist the illness. After reading this blog, I realize that my anger probably doesn't do much to expedite healing.  In fact, it may lock pain in place and not allow the healing flow of grace to move through by body.

Katrina has learned through this experience that she does better when she allows her anger to dissolve in a pool of gratitude. She has been made aware that she will not always be able to do what she wants but is grateful that her body holds her up now. 

Gratitude isn't necessarily a feeling.  Sometimes it is a decision. Sometimes it is looking not at the injury or the limitation, but at all the things that we can still do and being thankful.

To read Katrina's blog, copy this link and put in your browser:


Anger is part of the normal feelings that one has when one has had a significant loss.  But, it is more than that. I reflect on that in my book, "Lose, Love, Live:  The Spiritual Gifts of Loss and Change."

"Being in touch with our anger and fear and anxiety is a vital part of growing spiritually. To grow spiritually requires centering our lives in that which can sustain us in the midst of the changing world around us.  Spiritual strength is the ability to stay on course even when the winds of threat and fear would knock us off.  If we are in touch with our fears and our anger, then we are more aware of what we are putting our trust in.  To trust our souls to those things that can be taken from us is to be vulnerable to manipulation by the powers that would control us.  To trust in the energy of life that creates and re-creates us, ever calling us into a new world, is to be defined by that which has eternal qualities."