Here are some particular features of sibling loss that you may relate to:
- The nature of the sibling relationship, which is for many people the longest relationship in life; siblings are “life witnesses” who know us as no one else can
- The feeling that with your sibling gone you have lost past, present, and future
- The challenge of supporting one’s parent(s) through the loss, especially when extreme parental grief constitutes an additional loss for the bereaved sibling
- New roles and responsibilities for surviving siblings as the family structure shifts
- Guilt from unresolved issues or challenging sibling relationships
- For adult siblings, regret over distance or lack of time spent
- The depth of sibling connection, regardless of proximity or emotional closeness, and often despite conflict
- The tendency for others to idealize the deceased sibling
- Sense of a part of self missing, physically/emotionally and in terms of memory
Circumstances of sibling loss, and the accompanying needs, vary widely. An adult losing a sibling, for example, has different needs than a child who has lost a sibling. Someone whose sibling died by suicide experiences different circumstances than someone who lost a sibling to cancer. We can learn from one another, sometimes when we connect with someone whose circumstances resemble ours, other times when the loss of a sibling is the only thing we have in common.
BPUSA offers support for siblings:
- All existing chapters welcome bereaved siblings.
- A few chapters are exclusively for siblings, and we hope to have more. If you do not live near these chapters, we invite you to start a sibling-specific chapter of your own.
- Our Annual Gathering Conference features workshops focused on siblings as well as sibling-specific activities and a gathering spot.
- In our Resources, we have collected personal writings about sibling loss.
- We have a Sibling Coordinator on the Board of Directors who focuses on all areas of sibling support. Contact the Sibling Coordinator with your questions, thoughts, and ideas.