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Dear Annie: I’m taking my dear brother’s unexpected death so hard

Dear Annie: I’m taking my dear brother’s unexpected death so hard

Dear Annie: I lost my dad 15 years ago and my mum 13 years ago – they were aged 51 and 52. On October 30 last year, I also lost my brother. He was only 43. The post-mortem came back inconclusive, so now we have to go to an inquest.

I’m taking it really hard, losing my brother. All I seem to do is cry. Me and him were so close from when my mum and dad passed away. I have an older sister and younger brother but I’m not close to them the way I was with my brother. It’s killing me not knowing how he passed away, I can’t move on with my life and I’m always shouting at his photo for leaving me!

Only for my daughters and grandchildren, I don’t know where I would be! I think I’m taking it so hard because I don’t have my parents here to help me through it. My doctor has referred me to speak to someone, but there’s a long waiting list. I just don’t know what to do anymore – JG

Annie says: What a terribly sad and challenging time it has been for you. I’m really sorry, JG.

I imagine you must be feeling a whole range of emotions and it must be very overwhelming, especially as you say, you don’t have your parents there to support you.

I agree with your doctor that it is important you find a way to talk to someone. I’m not sure where you are based, but there are low-cost counselling options available, which you might consider as the NHS waiting list is so long. Many private practitioners will offer reduced rates, so it would be worth looking on the counselling directories such as It’s Good to Talk and Counselling Directory to find someone near you.

In terms of your brother’s death and the uncertainty surrounding it, I can only imagine the anger and frustration you must be feeling. In circumstances when we feel out of control and unable to do anything, it can sometimes be really useful to write a letter. You could, for example, write your brother a letter, telling him how angry you are with him for leaving, and telling him about everything you are experiencing. Write anything and everything that comes into your mind. Then burn the letter.

This can be an extremely powerful way of expressing painful feelings and also finding some sense of control again. It’s important to burn the letter, too, so that it doesn’t become something that festers. This is also something you can continue to do throughout your life. It's great you have family around you and I am sure they will support you in your endeavour to get support. That must be your priority.

Find bereavement support charities offering free listening-ear helplines and face-to-face support for people coping with the loss of a loved one, on our Bereavment Support pages.

If you have a question for Annie to answer in this column, you can write to her at

About Annie

Annie Broadbent is a trained psychosynthesis counsellor, with specialist experience working with the bereaved. As a therapist she explores the mind, body, feelings and spirit, working with individuals in a way that is most appropriate for them.

She is the author of bestselling self-help book We Need to Talk About Grief, inspired by personal experiences of living through bereavement, including her own. Whilst writing her book, Annie volunteered at St Christopher's Hospice and has given a number of talks on issues around grief, bereavement and mental health.

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