IF YOU have seen the classic 1950s war movie Ice Cold in Alex, starring John Mills, you will know the starting handle scene.

The four characters are trapped in the desert wilderness of North Africa, and during their journey to reach safety they must find a way to get their truck up a steep sand dune. It seems an impossible feat, but then they come up with the idea of using the starting handle to move the truck inch by inch up the soft sand slope.

The idea works, and with huge physical effort and teamwork, the truck gradually edges its way up. After many backbreaking hours, the truck is close to the summit. But then, in a moment of relaxation, the truck is allowed to run back down to the bottom of the hill.

The faces of the characters show utter despair, and the character responsible is distraught. But instead of recriminations and anger, they get back to the painstaking job of edging the truck once more up the hill, this time successfully.

Of course, while the movie is set in Africa during the Second World War, it’s not so much about war but relationships between people in an adverse situation. I will give nothing away in case you haven’t seen it, but the goal that unites them is to reach the safety of Alexandria and have an ice cold beer together.

Just now, it feels a bit like we are at the bottom of a different sand dune. Not so long ago, we thought we had nearly made it to the summit, just a little way to go, but then our truck fell back again.

Like in the movie, all that effort and sacrifice to get back to where we started, and we know that probably there are more dunes along the journey, before we can reach our shared beer together. It feels exhausting.

The thing is, we all need a sense of hope and a belief in purpose to keep going. The dispiriting effect of reverses when we thought we were advancing can sap morale and destroy teamwork. And it can cause recriminations and anger.

I feel anger in the air these days, much more than usual; in the shops, on social media, in conversations between people.

Anger can be justified, without it we would have no social progress or challenge to injustice or wrongdoing.

But anger can be toxic too; for ourselves as well as the community. When we have the pain of loss and feel powerless, it can lead to despair and anger. There is so much loss just now, not only of loved ones but of dreams, hopes, livelihoods and relationships.

But there is often a wee voice in our head that tells us: “Stop feeling this way, be grateful for what you have, for there are plenty of people worse off than you.” I’ve had that voice in my head and I’ve also heard many others say it to themselves.

And of course, this voice is right in one way, for there will almost always be someone worse off than you.

But this voice does not have the whole truth. What it also needs to say is that loss is a deeply personal experience only fully understood by the person feeling it. Nobody truly knows how a loss will affect you in your circumstance, except you. So acknowledging the importance of your loss to yourself, and allowing yourself to grieve and process it is vital. Otherwise we bury the feelings, which don’t go away but seep out, possibly as depression or anger.

Doing this doesn’t make you selfish, or a snowflake or self-centred, and it doesn’t take away empathy for others who are suffering deeper loss. It’s part of our healing. It can help us help others too, such as our children, family and friends, by not judging or comparing their emotions by our own.

While much of the anger in the air these days is well-directed, I think some of it comes from the pain of loss which many feel compelled to bury or hide.

I know I need to be better at allowing myself to grieve without guilt for the loss of things other people may see as less important, but are so deeply heartfelt for me. And you need to allow this for yourself too.

And then one day, hopefully soon, this difficult journey will be over, and that ice cold beer will be waiting, to be metaphorically drunk together.