Five Things Everyone Should Know about Siblings and Grief

By: VGFS
Tuesday, December 1, 2020

The passing of a brother or sister is among life’s greatest losses. Particularly in adulthood, though, sibling loss tends to be a neglected form of grief.

The focus of support is usually on the surviving spouse and children, or on the parents who have lost their child, rather than on the brothers and sisters. Although it may receive little social acknowledgment, the loss of a sibling can affect us in many ways. Here are five important things everyone should understand about siblings and bereavement.

 

 



There are many unique elements involved in sibling loss.

Aside from deep feelings of grief, a number of psychological aspects can come into play. For better or worse, our siblings are part of our history and they represent important pieces of our formative years. Common memories, childhood experiences, and family history are among the significant things we share. When a brother or sister dies, it takes away those connections to the past. A constant in life is gone, leaving a vacuum that can create feelings of anxiety and insecurity. A shared genetic background may increase concerns about our own mortality. The death of a sibling can also create profound shifts in the family dynamic, such as being suddenly thrust into the role of an only child. In short, losing a sibling changes everything.

Our culture tends to under-appreciate sibling grief. 

The loss of an adult sibling is often a significant one that carries with it a profound sense of loss. It is valid and important. But when an adult dies, our society mistakenly believes that the parents, spouse, and children of the person who died suffer the greatest loss. We seem to think siblings are affected less. But the truth is, the more deeply we are connected to someone, the more difficult his or her death is.

Feelings of guilt are common.

Siblings have a special and complex relationship. It can be close and intimate, distant and formal, or anything in between. While we are growing up, they are friends and enemies, as well as teammates and competitors. We play with our siblings and we fight with them, too. We share our parents’ love and we compete for it. We enjoy being part of a family while we struggle to become individuals. In the face of sibling loss, it’s not unusual to reflect on every negative interaction and wish we could have a do-over. We may also feel regret if the relationship was not what we wanted it to be. In this situation, we grieve not only for what we had and lost but also for what we never had.

Self-care often takes a back seat—but it shouldn’t.

Amid the pain of losing someone so dear to us, basic needs like sleeping, eating, exercising, or connecting with our spouse and kids can go by the wayside. We try hard to hold it all together. If our parents are still alive, we may focus on them because they are struggling with the immense pain of losing their child. Instead, we should accept that this experience is also emotionally draining for us. We need time for healing, too. It is important that we not only take care of our physical health but also our mental health. Seek and accept support from a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional if needed.
Love does not end with the passing of a brother or sister. Siblings share an eternal bond. It is impossible to fully appreciate the influence they have on our lives until they are gone. 

The pain of sibling loss is very real. Be sure to get emotional or professional support if you feel overwhelmed. Our caring funeral directors are always here to assist you, too. Please reach out to us anytime.

About Vaughn Greene Funeral Services: For more than 20 years, Vaughn Greene Funeral Services has been providing a ministry of care to Baltimore’s African American community. As a leading local, minority- and family-owned provider, we promise to provide our highest level of service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved ones. For more information, please call us at 410.655.0015 or visit us online at https://vaughncgreene.com/.

Leave a comment
Name*:
Email:
Comment*:
Please enter the numbers and letters you see in the image. Note that the case of the letters entered matters.

Comments

Please wait

Previous Posts

Simplify Your Life with These Clever Senior-Friendly Downsizing Tips

Downsizing in your golden years comes with many benefits. Lower energy bills, less cleaning and maintenance, more time for fun, and possibly even moving closer to loved ones. It’s a wonderful way...

Hosting a Memorable Repast: Answer These Six Questions to Create a Loving, Remarkable Event

Saying the final goodbye to a departed loved one is undeniably difficult. On top of all of the emotions involved, many details must be attended to and the planning can seem burdensome. Fortunately...

Headstone Etiquette: Yes, Grave Markers Come with Some Important Rules

Most people are familiar with headstones to some degree. While you may not have purchased one, you have probably seen these grave markers in cemeteries and other burial places. However, you may be...

Seven Keys to Writing a Headstone Inscription that Honors Your Loved One

A headstone is an expensive, permanent, and important monument so it’s essential that you get it right. Once you’ve chosen the grave marker, it’s time to think about the words you want to inscribe...

Extending Condolences: Eight Tips for Sharing Your Heartfelt Sympathies

Most people find it hard to put their deepest sympathies into words. Whether you are posting to a funeral home’s online sympathy board or sending condolences by mail, knowing what to say and how ...

The Protocol for Funeral Processions: Ten Important Things You Need to Know

Good funeral etiquette also involves following the protocols for the procession. Even if you’ve never participated in one, chances are you have seen a funeral procession and may have wondered abo...

Eight Important Considerations for Young Children at Funerals

Losing a loved one impacts everyone who cherished the departed. If you are planning a funeral or memorial service, you may need to decide whether or not young children should attend. Grieving fam...

Do You Know the Many Advantages of Pre-Paying a Funeral?

Making funeral arrangements is never an easy thing to do. When a loved one passes away without leaving behind any instructions, it can make planning their funeral even more challenging for surviv...

Developing Your Legacy: How Do You Want to be Remembered?

When we pass on, we are remembered by the imprint we have etched into the minds and hearts of others. Our legacies are made up of a combination of successes, failures, contributions, life lessons...

Is a Senior Living Community Right for You? Consider These Important Benefits

Are you considering downsizing for retirement? If you foresee your current home becoming a challenge to maintain or not meeting your needs as you age, you might consider making the move to a seni...