Advice from grief and loss experts on how to cope with the death of a sibling.
The sibling bond is a special relationship, and the death of your brother or sister can affect you in many ways. If you have multiple siblings, it’s a loss you may experience many times over.
Siblings may be very close with one another, indifferent, or consistently at odds — whatever the nature of the relationship, “brothers and sisters influence each other’s identity in fundamental ways,” says psychologist Therese Rando, author of “How to Go On Living When Someone You Love Dies.”
When your sister or brother dies, you lose someone who knew you in a special way. Your sibling is someone who has been in your life for a long time and is an important connection to your past.
You may feel guilt about your sibling’s death. “There were probably times when you wished that your sibling were not around, would disappear, or would drop dead,” says Dr. Rando. “These feelings usually come back to haunt us.”
As with any family death, the death of a sibling leads to a reorganization of roles, responsibilities, and relationships. Your position or status in the family may change. As a result of your sibling’s death, you may now be the eldest or the youngest, or you may suddenly find yourself an only child.
People make assumptions about grief and will even rank different types of loss, often placing loss of a child or spouse as the most distressing. Though the grief of siblings isn’t always acknowledged, the death of a sister or brother can affect you profoundly.
Legacy offers advice from experts on how to cope with the death of a sibling, as well as thoughtful reflections on the loss of a brother or sister from those who have lived through it.
There is no other loss in adult life that appears to be so neglected as the death of a brother or sister. Rarely has it been the subject of investigation or discussion. Nevertheless, this is a loss to which most of us are repeatedly exposed.
Sibling survivors are often called the forgotten mourners. When a sibling dies, those siblings left behind, no matter their ages, are considered secondary mourners to the parents and/or the spouse and children of the sibling who died.
In her new book “With and Without Her: A Memoir of Being and Losing a Twin,” Dorothy Foltz-Gray shares the story of her sister’s murder and the immense grief she endured after losing her identical twin.