How To Cope With The Death Of A Sibling
The death of a sibling is a unique, significant loss. Siblings are the people with whom we have a common history. They are people with whom we share important frames of reference and experiences that shape us as adults. They can act as links to other family members we have lost, or serve as anchors in an ever-changing world. All of this makes losing a sibling an incredibly painful experience, but you can help yourself begin the journey to healing by coping in healthy ways.
Feel Your Grief
Losing a sibling means losing a long-term relationship. A constant in your life is now gone and can never be replaced. Unfortunately, many people feel a need to downplay their grief because our culture tends to focus on the loss felt by the surviving spouse, parents, or children. Often, a sibling will get questions about how the rest of the family is faring, with no attention given to the very real loss the sibling is navigating, as well. If you find yourself holding back your grief for one of these reasons, allow yourself to let go and truly feel each emotion as it comes. Your grief is just as valid as any other family member’s; honor it by allowing it in.
Let Go Of Guilt
It’s common to feel guilty when your sibling dies. Relationships between siblings can be highly complicated. They often involve both love and rivalry, affection, and jealousy. You may wish you had been closer to your sibling, or even feel that it should have been you instead. It’s important to forgive yourself, letting go of any guilt you feel saddled with. Siblings argue, they compete, they lose touch at times. None of these things mean you did not love your sibling wholly.
Take Care Of Your Own Health
The death of a sibling causes many of us to face our own mortality. It can be a scary experience. If you’re struggling with this type of anxiety in the midst of your grief, consider ways to take back control. Make that doctor appointment you’ve been putting off, use the gym membership that’s been languishing in your wallet, or simply focus on living a healthier lifestyle day by day.
Find Ways to Remember Your Sibling
Remembering your sibling’s life often means remembering your own youth in the process, and it can be a cathartic experience if you are grieving the loss of a brother or sister. It may feel good to make a special website for sharing pictures, memories, or thoughts about your sibling and invite others to post tributes, too. At ForeverMissed we provide just such a shared, easily-accessible virtual space where you can set up a Memorial Website in a few minutes.
Losing a sibling can change your whole world, and the weight of your loss can feel overwhelming. As you cope day by day, consider positive ways to move forward in your healing journey. Allowing yourself to truly experience your grief, letting go of any guilt, respecting your own health needs and finding positive ways to remember your sibling may be useful steps in learning to live with your profound loss.
Are you grieving a sibling? Are you finding ways to cope? We welcome you to share your experiences in the comments below.