Support for Adults Grieving the Death of a Sibling

Alice Wisler
sibling loss

Adults grieving the death of a sibling need the understanding that this loss is difficult to understand. When you lose a sibling, you have lost a part of your childhood.

Sudden and Prolonged Death

Losing a family member to death is never easy. Some siblings have been sick for many months or years. Others die unexpectedly. Both kinds of death have their own set of issues.

Age of Sibling

Age is another factor in losing a sibling. If the sibling was in his 60s or 70s, the loss is more expected. Losing a sibling who is only in his or her 20s presents a different set of emotions. You will most likely feel that your brother or sister's life was cut short while there were still many decades of life to live. Your sibling could be leaving behind young children and older parents, none of them ready for your sibling's life to end.

Facing Emotions After the Death

Adults grieving the death of a sibling may experience a wide range of emotions. Some of these may include:

  • Depression
  • Intense sorrow
  • Listlessness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Extensive crying

Where to Find Help

Feeling sad over the death of someone you shared your childhood with is natural. In addition to growing up in the same family and perhaps sharing a room and toys, you shared your parents. As you both grew older, perhaps you had some of the same experiences or attended the same college. As adults, you may have lived near each other and your children might have played with your sibling's children. Perhaps your families went on vacations or spent holidays together.When your sibling dies, you will find the listening ears of others to be healing. While your co-workers might not understand what it is like to lose a sibling, others who have been through the same loss can help.

The first rule for losing a loved one to death is to take care of yourself. After the funeral or memorial service, focus on what you need to do to help yourself in dealing with the death. Consider these options for support:

  • Grief support group - An opportunity to be in a group setting and freely speak about your feelings over the loss of your sibling is something to consider. Many find these sessions to be healthy venues for sharing. Your local hospital may have a list of support groups in the area. The Compassionate Friends is a national support group for those who have lost a child or sibling to death. There are local chapters and you can find one nearest you. Other national support groups include Grief Share.
  • Counselor or a therapist - A professionally trained listener to provide guidance might be what you need, especially if the death was sudden or by suicide or murder.
  • Friends - Some friends may surprise you and be great sources of help while others may not know how to effectively reach you and provide for your needs.
  • Other family members - A living sibling may give lots of support as you and he/she mourn and heal together.
  • Church - A member of the clergy may be able to comfort you in your faith. The church as a whole will want to supply meals, send cards, and offer encouragement to you in the weeks ahead.
  • Books on grief and loss - Go to your library or bookstore to find books on bereavement and grief. These will help you understand the emotions you are experiencing and what to expect in the months and years to come. Many of the books are written by people who have lost a sibling and are familiar with your loss.

Take Your Time

Society, as a whole, will want to rush you to get better. They may expect you to be back to your old self within weeks of the death. Adults grieving the death of a sibling need to remember that taking time to grieve is healthy and important. Share the memories, freely cry and know that you will not always feel this sorrowful.

In Memory

Often doing something in memory of a loved one is therapeutic. Consider contributing to a foundation or charity in your sibling's name. Let others know that they can make donations to a particular organization. Establishing a memorial is a wonderful way to honor and commemorate the life of your sibling.

Support for Adults Grieving the Death of a Sibling