Sibling Loss

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When a new child enters the family, a special bond is created among all the children. Siblings are supposed to protect one another, support one another, and ally together against parents and the rest of the world. The bond that is formed with a sibling is nothing like any other relationship that you will have in your life. Siblings play a big role in each other's lives and the death of a sibling can be the most traumatic event of one's life. The impact of a sibling's death can last a lifetime. Unfortunately, society often does not recognize the death of a sibling as a significant loss and many siblings are left alone in their grief. People tend to focus on the parents of the deceased or on the siblings nuclear family. Parents are often not very helpful in the process of sibling grief. Parents tend to be consumed with their own grief and often do not have energy for consoling the siblings of the deceased. Everyone will handle the loss of a sibling in their own individual way. Emotions following a sibling death are varied because families are unique, situations are different, and sibling relationships are ever-changing. No matter what, losing a sibling at any point in a life is a significant and very painful event. Greater awareness must be created in regards to sibling loss. This paper examines the effects that losing a sibling has on individuals in various stages of their lives. Hopefully, it will create greater awareness of sibling loss and the grief associated with it.

If one individual was raised with a brother or sister by the same parents and were relatively close in age, they are likely to have a closer relationship than siblings who are raised by different parents and separated by a wide age range. Once that bond is created it is an everlasting bond that will be tested a lot throughout life but always tends to succeed. It is amazing to see that siblings often tend to develop certain characteristics and talents that will differentiate them from their siblings. The significance of this process is that siblings who differentiate themselves from one another come to rely on each other even more. For example, one sibling may be a star athlete, while the next excels in academics because they differentiated themselves from each other. Then the siblings tend to rely on each other and support each other through their uniqueness. These types of bonds are formed early in life and that is why the death of a sibling for a child is extremely difficult to understand and cope with. The family environment greatly impacts the grieving siblings. For example, "Children do better in families where feelings, thoughts, and ideas are more freely expressed; a sense of cohesion or closeness exists, and bereaved siblings exhibit fewer behavioral problems" (Davies 4). Children tend to have several responses when dealing with the death of a sibling such as; "I hurt inside", "I don't understand", "I don't belong", and "I'm not enough." There are certain ways to help a child cope when dealing with these types of statements. For children who make these types of statements the goal is to, "help children accept whatever emotion they experience and to manage those emotions in appropriate ways" (Davies 4). This is a very difficult task to accomplish because many children do not openly express or verbalize their thoughts and feelings. The best way to help these children cope is to closely watch behaviors and respond sensitively when a change is noticed. "Children who are hurting need comforting and consoling. They do not need lectures, judgments, teasing or interrogations. Rather, they need someone who is consistent and honest, and who is willing to share his or her own thoughts and feelings with the child" (Davies 5). Even though sibling grief is an extremely difficult journey, it is not one that siblings must travel alone if the significant adults in their lives acknowledge their grief and are willing to be comforting...
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