I believe that I interfered with God’s will. I am a medical doctor, and a little less than a year ago my brother, the person who I loved most in this world, died during surgery for a brain tumor.

I was angry and I blamed my mother for the delay in my brother’s diagnosis because it left me no time to get him to another country where there might have been other treatment options…. He died during his second surgery.

My brother was a man completely devoted to God with a faith that was unshakeable. He was convinced that God would heal him… but it didn’t turn out that way, and I feel guilty because perhaps my anger and pain didn’t allow me to make the best decisions.

Dear Friend,

We are very sorry for your loss. We know what it is like to lose a very close sibling at too young an age, and we can verify that life for you will never be the same again. There will always be an empty place at the table and an emptiness in your heart. Grief is like that.

You mention that you were angry at your mother and that you also blame yourself. Anger and blame are part of the second stage of grief. (1) As part of your medical studies, you most likely learned of psychiatrist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross and the five stages of grief that she proposed. (2) These stages have been widely accepted by medical professionals for the past half century. However, it is often easy to identify the stages in someone else, but more difficult in ourselves.

The third stage is made up of asking questions like the ones you have asked yourself. What if my brother had been diagnosed sooner? What if I had taken him to another country soon enough to take advantage of the latest treatments? What if I hadn’t made the decisions that I made?

The fourth stage is depression. Your words portray that your emotions have already sunk to a low point, and who wouldn’t feel low after losing the person they loved most in the world? Your situational depression will not likely turn into clinical depression, but it is unwise to trust what your emotions are telling you.

You say that your brother was devoted to God and that he believed he would be healed. It would be natural for you to blame God for not preventing your brother’s death. Surely those who are faithful to God should get a little extra benefit from Him, right?

Then why doesn’t God always heal every faithful believer who prays? This reality can be difficult to accept, but faithful believers trust God to give them the right number of days on earth and then eternity in heaven. God’s number of days for your brother was not affected by the time of his diagnosis nor by your anger and blame. Your brother trusted God, so even though we don’t know the reason why his prayers weren’t answered in the way that he believed, his trust was in God, not in getting what he wanted.

We mourn with you,

1 The first stage is denial.
2 Jasmine Shaikh, MD, “What Are the 5 Stages of Grief in Order?”, MedicineNet, 26 March 2021 Online 7 May 2021.