My mother died a few months ago, and I’m not sure if I grieved for her. Since that time, I have noticed a significant change in my personality. My behavior and actions have changed so much that I have come to the point of not showing respect to my family…. I am afraid, sad, and furious because I don’t know how to change or get rid of these attitudes that have caused me to lose all the good that my mom taught me.
We are very sorry to hear about the loss of your mother. You did not expect it to affect you the way it has, so you are concerned that the changes may be permanent.
First, we would like to assure you that it is very common for individuals to experience anger after the loss of a loved one. It is also common to show that anger toward people who love you and are part of your inner circle. They are the “safe” people who will love you no matter what, so you are acting out the anger that is inside of you within these relatively safe relationships.
Obviously this is not good for your relationships, and your family may have their feelings hurt, or may be responding in anger toward you, or both. You love them and don’t want to hurt them, so that makes you feel even more frustrated with yourself.
None of this means that you have forgotten the lessons that your mother taught you, nor that you have turned into someone you don’t want to be. This is a temporary period in which you are emotionally processing what it means to live without your mother in your life.
What will help you the most is to offer humble and deeply-felt apologies. Should you apologize repeatedly every time your anger gets the best of you? Definitely!
If you haven’t already done so, have a conversation with your family at a time when you are not angry. One option would be to make dinner for them and tell them that you have something that you want to talk about during dinner. Be completely vulnerable, expressing your feelings of shame for how you have treated them. Admit that your grief is being expressed in anger toward them, and that you want to stop doing that.
If they respond emotionally, allow them to describe to you how they have been impacted by your anger. Don’t become defensive and take up for yourself or make excuses. Accept that their feelings are valid and that you are responsible for what you have said.
When the Apostle Peter asked Jesus how many times we should be willing to forgive someone, Jesus responded to the effect that we should be willing to forgive an unlimited number of times. (1) Hopefully, your family members will be willing to forgive you over and over again while you practice healthier ways to deal with your anger.
We wish you well,
1 Mt 18:21-22