Anger that my brother died

by Paul V. Johnson

Dear Paul,

My brother died in March, and I've been holding anger inside me for a long time. What's a good way for me to let it out?


Dear Imsuper,

I'm sorry about your brother's death and hope that you have been getting support from friends and other members of your family over these past few months.

Your question both states the problem ("I've been holding anger inside me for a long time") as well as indicates what must be done ("let it out").

It's important to realize that anger is one of the most common emotions we experience following the death of an important person in our life. Some people think that they shouldn't be angry and then when they are, they think something must be wrong. Being angry is very common and, as such, is not a problem. What you do with that anger is the key thing and could become a problem.

You didn't mention what it is that you are angry about or to whom your anger is directed. It could be directed at medical professionals for not saving your brother's life, at God for not intervening, or even at your brother for doing something that contributed to his death. Again, being angry is not the problem, but what you do with it might be. How have you handled anger that you have experienced at other times in your life? Maybe the same technique will work here. The important thing is that your anger be vented or let out in a way that doesn't hurt anyone else. For example, maybe your participation in some intense physical activity is a good way to let those feelings out. Taking out your frustrations about your brother's death by treating other members of your family poorly is not a good way to ventilate. So, think back to positive and effective ways you have handled anger in the past and see if they can be applied here.

You already know that the anger needs to be let out. If it isn't released you may experience such things as migraine headaches or psychosomatic illnesses.

Best wishes as you take care of yourself by releasing this anger.