The link between grief and anger, some insights from Al Anon

Some of us were shamed for anger growing up.. there is an intricate link between grief and anger and shame and shame is the key issue in the personality disorder of narcissism,toxic narcissists run from and project shame onto others, especially their vulnerable children.

The following reading, modified from Opening Our Hearts ; Tranforming Our Losses makes a lot of sense to me as someone who was often terrified of feeling anger. It also makes sense of a grief I can feel in losing access to this separating power or force in my psyche that helps me become healthier, more assertive and self aware: .

Grief does not only manifest itself through tears and sadness. Even if we feel nothing but anger for a time, we can still be grieving.. Though it is natural to feel anger while we are grieving, many of us are uncomfortable with this feeling. Just hearing the word anger can lead many of us to react – especially if we have been affected by another’s uncontrollable rage or physical and emotional abuse. Or perhaps the topic makes us comfortable because we are struggling with our own anger. Anger can be an important part of our grief and our healing.. If our tendency has been to avoid anger, we may be unaware of what it can teach us. We can learn to give ourselves permission to feel our anger instead of denying it or running from it.

Anger may be one of the most confusing feelings we will have to confront when we are grieving. We may have told ourselves if we were a good person, if we were working a proper program or if we were spiritual enough we would not feel angry. Feeling anger has nothing to do with any of these things In fact, working a good program (of recovery) means accepting all of our feelings – including anger. Whatever shame we may feel about our anger does little to negate it. We may do everything in our power to convince ourselves that we shouldn’t feel anger, but discounting or discrediting our feelings won’t make them disappear – it may only intensify them. It’s possible to get stuck in any feeling, and anger is no exception. We don’t have to let our anger control us, but it can, if we don’t allow ourselves to feel it.

If we didn’t have healthy models for expressing anger, we may become frightened or anxious whenever we are around angry people. Our own feelings of anger may also intimidate us, which can lead us to either suppress our feelings, or to act them out inappropriately. A struggle with a violent or alcoholic parent may leave us believing that anger and violence are intrinsically linked.. that parent may have been the only one allowed to express anger and to have done it dysfunctionally.

We can learn how to express anger in appropriate and healthy ways and just because someone’s anger feels uncomfortable, it does not mean we are unsafe. When anger crosses a boundary into aggression or violence we can beware and set limits…

Awareness of anger may take time and it is my experience that for some of us it appears then as body symptoms which we have not yet learned to identify and name, such as a tightening of our jaw, a sucking in of breath, a clenching of our muscles or spasms.

Anger lets us know we have been hurt.. speaking up will help us to move away from the pain and in articulating it help us to deal with it. Asking ourselves why we might feel angry is important as anger and boundaries and feelings are all connected.. Was an unresolved hurt triggered?

If we believe in God it may help us to know that God understands and accepts our anger.. Even Jesus got angry with the money lenders in the temple, he also spoke out about the need to set boundaries or cut ties with those who don’t accept our no.

Letting go of our anger doesn’t mean we condone the way we have been treated, and it doesn’t mean we won’t still feel pain about our losses. It may take a lot of work to get to this point, but in the long run facing our anger will get us further than burying it somatically, running from it, or trying our best to deny it exists.

5 thoughts on “The link between grief and anger, some insights from Al Anon

  1. I was a runner. I still find myself today wanting to run at the feeling or seeing someone close to me get angry. I’m terrified of anger due to the fact of my upbringing. I talk myself down and thankfully I have an incredible husband who knows what I feel and assures me its okay..

    1. I completely understand. Do you ever read Al Anon stuff it helps me my Mum was a rager and it’s taking me a long time to know the purpose of anger. I always think anger means a relationship is over. I am so glad you’ have a loving husband. ♥️

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