For many of us, it is all too common to avoid difficult emotions, especially the raw heartache associated with grief regarding loss. Grief is not only about loss associated with death but may also arise when a relationship ends, when we lose a job and when we are forced to move, or about the frustration of our needs—such as the need for food, clothing, shelter, and love.

It may be a dominant feeling in reaction to losing identity due to an emotional or physical challenge, even when we have initiated a change, such as choosing to move or entering retirement.

Grief is associated with feelings of sadness, depression, guilt, numbness, and anger. In the throes of grief, our body may fold inward. We may feel a sharp ache within our core. We may feel immobilized by the grief and other associated feelings. Certainly, like other emotions, grief can vary in intensity, duration, and frequency.

In grief, we may prefer silence and stillness to engagement and action. We may feel the tension of sadness on our faces, lethargy in our limbs, and powerful inertia that seemingly increases the gravitational pull to the spot we occupy.

When living with grief, we may experience tension around our eyes from crying, wanting to cry, or simply wanting to close them. With grief, we may crave sleep but find it difficult to sleep. We carry tiredness within our minds and bodies. Our appetite may change in either direction. Additionally, it may lead to stomach upset. Grief can cause lightness or heaviness in the chest or throat.

When immersed in grieving, we may be transported to past losses and once again experience the hurt and grief associated with them. This may be especially true when we have neglected to address our grief regarding such loss honestly. Or, we may project ourselves into the future, anticipating how it will be living with our loss.

With grief, we may sit and wonder how the world can continue to experience resentment that it is not slowing down to recognize, acknowledge, and validate our grief. Grief is associated with an intense sense of isolation, even when we may have others to support us.

It is then no surprise that we may try to avoid grief by minimizing or suppressing it. We may immerse ourselves in activity to distract ourselves from it. Or, we may hastily deal with a loss by replacement, as when my neighbor adopted a new dog the day after her dog passed. Additionally, it was the same breed, and she gave it the same name as the one that died.

However, grief that is not acknowledged seeks acknowledgment and can only exacerbate both emotional and physical pain. Suppressed grief can lead to emotional numbness, low-level depression, diminished energy, and a reduction in motivation. Additionally, it may lead to depression and anxiety or even panic attacks, as well as contribute to cardiac problems.

And for many individuals, anger can serve as a powerful distraction from grief. Anger is an energizing emotion that directs our attention outward to a situation or person we perceive as triggering our anger. And by redirecting our attention, we can protect ourselves from the intense pain of grief.

I’ve observed such anger in individuals who lost a loved one, were abandoned by a partner, or faced an illness or accident that kept them from pursuing their dreams. I’ve worked with men whose sudden cardiac problems cut short their participation in marathons and women facing the loss of identity precipitated by breast cancer. I’ve counseled seniors who have faced the loss of identity precipitated by their retirement.

And I’ve heard many stories of anger in relationships that served as a distraction from grief about letting go of expectations regarding a partner. I’ve worked with individuals who carried anger toward their partner for years over their lack of availability to meet their expectations, whether about emotional or physical intimacy, time spent together, parenting style, or management of finances.

By remaining angry, some avoided the grief inherent in acknowledging that their differences in values warranted ending the relationship.

Some of us may stay angry in response to grievances we may experience in our everyday lives, such as when we feel slighted by the driver who cuts in front of us, the cashier who makes a mistake, or the contractor who arrives an hour late. In each case, we may be unwilling to let go of expectations that people should be as we wish.

It is important to recognize when anger might be masking grief. This may be reflected by the following:

Healthy coping with grief depends on our resilience to sit with grief about our losses. This includes accepting grief and the other emotions associated with it. You can cultivate resilience in dealing with grief by engaging in the following practices.

Grieving is not a one-time event. Even when fully acknowledged and accepted, our grieving, especially about our most meaningful losses, is a lifelong experience. By acknowledging and accepting grief, it becomes more muted, duller rather than sharp in its impact.

We carry our most meaningful relationships within us even when they are no longer with us. The caring may not stop in their absence. So, it makes perfect sense that grieving may also endure.

The challenge is to be aware when you mask it with anger.

To find a therapist, visit the Psychology Today Therapy Directory.

QOSHE - Is Anger Masking Your Grieving? - Bernard Golden
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Is Anger Masking Your Grieving?

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24.02.2024

For many of us, it is all too common to avoid difficult emotions, especially the raw heartache associated with grief regarding loss. Grief is not only about loss associated with death but may also arise when a relationship ends, when we lose a job and when we are forced to move, or about the frustration of our needs—such as the need for food, clothing, shelter, and love.

It may be a dominant feeling in reaction to losing identity due to an emotional or physical challenge, even when we have initiated a change, such as choosing to move or entering retirement.

Grief is associated with feelings of sadness, depression, guilt, numbness, and anger. In the throes of grief, our body may fold inward. We may feel a sharp ache within our core. We may feel immobilized by the grief and other associated feelings. Certainly, like other emotions, grief can vary in intensity, duration, and frequency.

In grief, we may prefer silence and stillness to engagement and action. We may feel the tension of sadness on our faces, lethargy in our limbs, and powerful inertia that seemingly increases the gravitational pull to the spot we occupy.

When living with grief, we may experience tension around our eyes from crying, wanting to cry, or simply wanting to close them. With grief, we may crave sleep but find it difficult to sleep. We........

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