Anger + Grief = Guilt, But Should It?


Don’t feel guilty about your feelings.
Photo by David Castillo Dominici at

When my dear brother passed away, I was angry at him. We were still on speaking terms, saw each other often and spoke on the phone every day. To all outward appearances, we were as close as a brother and sister could be. We were the only ones left in our family, so I tried hard to stay close.   He was living with his girlfriend, Lesa, who happened to be my best friend of over forty years, so we were our own little tribe. It wasn’t an issue, as such, just an underlying anger that I felt toward him.

As much as I loved him, I have to say that he could be very selfish and did some things that hurt me very deeply. He was not being there for me as much as I was for him. Things I needed help with seemed to be too much trouble for him to do for me and he left me feeling alone and scared sometimes. The one person I thought I could count on was not wanting to be counted on, leaving me to cope with numerous problems on my own. Coming from such a close knit, always there for each other family, it surprised and hurt  me.

I have an anxiety disorder that I’ve dealt with, on and off, since childhood. He just thought it was foolishness and that was hard to take. But through all this, I still tried to be a family and he and Lesa could always count on me. Like all siblings, we had our fights and disagreements, but he was my brother and I loved him. But I have to admit that underneath, I was angry and disappointed in him.

When I got that horrific call that he had passed away of a massive heart attack in a store, my whole world collapsed.  He was only 64 and had no serious health issues, except high blood pressure, which he was taking medication for. I could not believe it and still can’t (it’s been six months ago). Eight years ago, we lost our father and a year and a half later, our mother. In that time I’ve also lost over a dozen others, including many of my fur babies and friends. So grief has been a constant in my life the last eight years.

Having all this grief to go through I learned that you have to let your emotions out. It’s the only way to heal. You must let yourself feel whatever it is you’re feeling. The surprise for me was that I could still feel that anger I had for my brother and the guilt set in immediately. I had never been through this with anyone else.

At first, I was horrified, but then I began to realize that it didn’t mean I didn’t love him, miss him with all my heart and would give anything to have him back. So I began to feel better about it, less guilty. My anger was justified and it was just part of life. It did not take away from how much I loved and missed him.

So, it made me think about why being angry at someone who dies shouldn’t make us feel guilty. I have never believed in making someone an angel because they passed away. We are going to remember everything about them…both the good and the bad. Still loving them in spite of their faults may be the truest form of love.

If you are having this same problem of feeling guilty because you were mad, give yourself a break. You are just honoring your feelings and this will help you get through your grief and heal. As time goes by, your anger will soften and your guilt will be gone. We must face the truth of what we feel in order to free ourselves of those feelings. It’s human and natural.





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