Grief Unrecognized: Loss of a Sibling

Echoes of each other’s being.
Whose eyes are those that look like mine?
Whose smile reminds me of my own?
Whose thoughts come through with just a glance?
Who knows me as no others do?
Who in the whole wide world is most like me
Yet not like me at all?
My sibling.

(Faber & Mazlish, 1989, p. 114)

So often the death of a sibling is dismissed, unrecognized or even ignored. The assumption is that perhaps it is not as devastating as a parent losing a child, a wife losing a husband, or even a child losing a parent. Yet, our siblings are one of the longest lasting relationships we will ever have.

Siblings define our past, are key in our “evolution” of our identity, and they know all of the intricacies of our families. Our siblings saw us in the best of times and in the worst. There is no other relationship like the sibling connection. In an instant your world changed when your brother or sister died. In an instant, your entire family changed forever.

The impact of losing a sibling has many layers and hits on many levels. You might feel guilt that you are the one that survived, you may feel confusion about what role you now play in the family, you may be angry that your family has changed so drastically, and the sadness you experience can be indescribable.

To quote the title of a superb book- Invisible Heroes (Naparstek, B), which outlines the impact trauma has on the body, this title also represents survivors of sibling loss. Many often feel invisible as their grief is so vastly overlooked.

In efforts to combat feeling invisible, make your loss and your grief known. Educate others about how  sibling grief shapes you. Just as there was a connection before your sibling died, there can be after the death as well.

Pay tribute and honor your brother or sister often. Say their name, tell their story, do random acts of kindness as a means of memorializing. Just as the poem suggests, don’t allow the “echo of your being” to be forgotten. It was an important relationship and will forever be.

50 Comments:

  1. Alison said on June 22, 2010 at 12:06 am ... #

    awesome Jill. i am going to share this with my friend Kate in ireland who runs Anam Cara, a group for parents who have lost children….

  2. Nita said on June 22, 2010 at 9:31 pm ... #

    Thank you. It is nice to see, in black in white, just exactly what I have been experiencing over the past 4 years since my sister (who was also my closest friend)died. I am the youngest and she was the next one older than me … far behind the 2 eldest sisters. We always figured we’d be the only 2 left someday. Now, …

  3. Kimberly from SoCal said on June 29, 2010 at 5:00 pm ... #

    Jill- great article! This is so true for children, our kids go through waves of grief and often feel and express that their grief isn’t “as important” because Ella was their sister, not their child….thank God for CZC and them being able to attend camp and feel ok, and feel accepted and to freely share.I think a lot of people just expect them to over it already…..

    -Ella’s Mummy

  4. Andy's sister said on July 1, 2010 at 12:13 pm ... #

    Thank you so much for posting this. I lost my brother and have been completely devastated for 4 years now. I live in an urban area and sought out support groups for loss of a sibling and foudn nothing. I truly felt invisible and that my grieg was less important than parent-child relationships. My brother was my first best friend and we shared our lives together – now it’s like my childhood never existed because he’s gone.

  5. leslie said on July 13, 2010 at 11:27 am ... #

    Jill-
    Touching thoughts and ones that resonate as you can read from the posts.
    I love the idea of paying tribute often. Saying their name, including them in our conversations…always remembering their presence.

  6. Eileen said on July 20, 2010 at 10:51 am ... #

    So incredibly touching – being the youngest of 7, and losing two brothers suddenly one year apart (in ’04 and ’05) was so devastating, and I have felt so alone in this feeling of grief. This makes me feel validated.

  7. Heather said on July 25, 2010 at 3:21 pm ... #

    My mum lost 4 children. A daughter in 1944 aged 3 months, Siamese twins in 1945 and a son aged 9 months in 1954. I have been doing family research and have found out all their names so they have become real and while on holiday in Northern Ireland I visited a cemetry as my great grandmother was buried there and was told that my 3 month old sister was buried there too. Im 50 years old and since then Ive become very tearful thinking about the brother and sisters I never knew and I dont know why.

  8. Danielle said on August 4, 2010 at 12:31 pm ... #

    My brother Brandon died in a car accident a year ago(he fell asleep at the wheel and ran off the road and hit a pole)… I find it so hard to breath somedays. I miss him so much. i love him so much. He was my big brother, but only a year older. We were so much alike and yet so different. All my life i had him to be my love and support. Life is just so different now. People don’t understand, but how could they, they weren’t us… I will miss him all the days of my life. I feel a part of me gone and it is so hard to not have his company, to hear his voice or see his smile.

  9. Ashley said on August 12, 2010 at 6:23 am ... #

    My sister and dearest friend Megan died 3 months ago to a 13 year battle of cancer. I have never felt this type of pain before. I want so badly to feel “normal” again, but I’m not sure I’ll ever fully recover losing her. Death is so final. I miss her more as each day passes. I speak of her all the time. She is constantly in my thoughts. It’s haunting in a way. Im afraid if I’m not thinking of her, I may start to forget little things. I’m holding on for dear life. How will I learn a healthy way to live without her? There is a hole in my heart in the shape of her.

  10. Terry said on August 12, 2010 at 11:57 am ... #

    My “baby” sister died at age 16 in 1979 in an alcohol related car crash. Two of her best friends died with her and one survived. I have two older sisters and we all have a different experience of this profound loss. After all these years I still wake from dreams that she is still with me and although the grief has changed shape and texture over the years, the pain is still excrutiating at times. Love to all who struggle with the pain of losing someone dear to them and hope as well because there are still bright moments to enjoy along the way.

  11. Marilyn said on September 6, 2010 at 10:21 pm ... #

    Again, an excellent article. Thank you all who post, you help normalize my feelings. My little sister- Chrissy-has been gone almost 3 years now and not a day goes by that I don’t think or speak her name- this keeps her alive in my mind and heart. Thanks again this is very comforting.

  12. Lyn said on October 12, 2010 at 12:19 am ... #

    Thank you. My brother and I lost our baby sister to cancer when we were young. He was closest to her in age and her loss filled him with so much rage no one knew what to do about it. I was the opposite. I closed up and wouldn’t talk to anyone for a long time. There wasn’t much n the way of child grief counseling in 1985 so it was hard for us to fully understand what to feel. My mom shut down and we felt forgotten and dad tried his best. Nothing seemed enough. I miss her terribly to this day and often wonder what life would have been like if she hadn’t gotten sick, what she would look like. I needed to read these words years ago. Thank you.

  13. Diane said on January 7, 2011 at 9:27 pm ... #

    I lost my older brother 37 years 2 months and 10 days ago…it changed destiny for my siblings and I. “you’ll get used to/over it”…ha! Another who lost their brother recently as well told me ..you’ll never get over it, you’ll just get used to it. Much closer to the truth. Any loss is a pain only someone who has gone through a similar pain can come close to understand … I don’t wish this on anyone. To brothers and sisters lost everywhere!

  14. naomi said on March 14, 2011 at 3:17 am ... #

    My older sister and unborn baby neice passed suddenly in an auto accident in July 1995.I was 17 she was 19. we were 18 months apart.Our whole lives we were thought to be twins.We looked alike, sounded alike, and were best friends.We had plans to raise our kids together. I never thought this would be any sort of a blessing ever in my life, until 3 weeks ago. My Oldest Son of 4, Bobby who in Dec just turned 18,took his life after a breakup and other things weighed too heavy.I miss him soo much.If i had not had loss before, i honestly dont think id ever get out of bed. But i not only lost my sister bk in 95, i lost my family. I refuse to let this happen for MY other 3 living children.My daughter said to me, “Mom, while other people wish and say they know how i feel, i know YOU do and i know i can talk to you and you’ll really understand.” At that time i realized God had prepared me for the last 16 years to be the rock my babies need today. I could never describe the pain and empty place my heart feels but i know we will be okay.To all parents, the loss of a sibling is so close to losing a child, I KNOW. Also, I think it is so important to include the siblings in arrangements, especially if they are asking, so they too can find peace. I wasnt included in my sisters arrangements and i hid that anger for years.I may not have even wanted to have part, but to be asked is important for healing. A siblings bond is the only bond closest to a parent/child bond….its eternal.

  15. Josie said on March 31, 2011 at 5:16 pm ... #

    My son, Jared died 17 months ago on 11-7-09. His sister, Jamie is 16 and misses him so very much! Some days I feel like I’ve lost them both because nothing is the same. I love my daugther so much and pray for her mental health and well-being.

  16. Linda said on April 16, 2011 at 6:48 pm ... #

    Thank you so much for addressing the loss of a sibling. My younger sister died last March from brain cancer and I haven’t stopped crying. Had lost my dad when I was 21 and it hurt horribly but it paled in comparison to losing Mary. She was so full of mischief and laughter, even the day she died. Lord how I miss her. Linda

  17. Linda said on April 16, 2011 at 7:07 pm ... #

    While Mary was alive she loved to cook great meals. She would call and say, Linny, you have to taste this. It’s A__ KICKING GIRL.
    MARY’S FAVORITE POTATO SALAD
    5 LBS OF COOKED, PEELED, CUBED, CHILLED POTATOES (PLACE IN LARGE BOWL).
    FRY 1 LB OF BACON CRISPY. DRAIN & COOL. CRUMBLE. BACON.
    IN SEPERATE BOWL COMBINE:
    2/3 CUP MAYO, 1/2 TSP. BLACK PEPPER, 1/2 TSP. SALT, 1 CUP DICED CELERY,
    1/2 CUP DICED RADDISH, 1/2 CUP SHREDDED CARROT (MOSTLY FOR COLOR),
    1/4 CUP BACON DRIPPINGS, 1/2 CP. GRATED FRESH ONION, 1 TSP. YELLOW MUSTARD
    3 HARD BOILED EGGS, CHILLED, PEELED, CUBED (4 IF YOU CHOOSE
    TO GARNISH SALAD WITH EGG), MIX WELL AND ADD COOKED, CUBED POTATOES.
    “A__KICKING ”, by Mary Zerilla – DOD 3/12/2010

  18. Marilyn said on April 27, 2011 at 9:45 pm ... #

    I lost my brother and dad in a boating accident Jan 1, 1970. I was 12, my brother was 14. To this day, there are times that I miss them terribly, and I grieve all over again. I’ve just learned to let myself grieve when I need to. I can truly say the loss of my brother was the hardest, even though my daddy was the bestest dad in the world. My brother and I were best friends, so we shared almost everything in our lives. And now I feel the loss that my children never got to know them. I have been able to talk about losing my dad, but much more difficult to talk about my brother. It still hurts too much after all these years. I’m glad that I found this site, and that others still grieve as I do. Hugs to all who have lost a brother or sister.

  19. Jason said on May 13, 2011 at 2:45 pm ... #

    I agree with you on delayed grief…I lost my brother to a tragic car accident when I was 19 and he was 24, and I was left the sole survivor.I was brought up close to my family, raised Roman Catholic, and Italian. I managed to be strong and help my parents, and they helped me in return and also my grandparents across the street from me.My grandfather passed away a couple years back, and now we are caring for my grandmother who suffers from dementia. I am also a gay male who suffers from clinical depression, but the pain of losing my brother still haunts me, and I understand the dark part…where I feel I am left in a dark world. You see life differently and it is hard to relate to others on a superficial level. I managed to work and get a university degree. My parents were hard working, and this tragedy struck at the very core of our souls. I did suffer from alcohol addiction because I had to repress alot of my feelings and be strong for my parents and carry on..so it does creep up to you…you somehow manage to survive,and live and try, and be with good and better people who you can trust, but its hard in this world.

  20. Jason said on May 13, 2011 at 2:47 pm ... #

    I am 32 now and I still feel that I havent healed..its a life long process, and its also hard to trust people who have your best interest at heart..

  21. Jim said on May 16, 2011 at 11:05 pm ... #

    My brother and best friend Chris died 4 weeks ago today. It was a sudden and unexpected stroke at 44 years old. We talked or emailed every day, spent practically every weekend doing something together. We were roommates for 10 years. I helped him raise his daughter and my wonderful niece. We were always there for each other in the best and worst of times. Only four weeks have passed and people are already trying to avoid the subject or push me to “get over” it. Each day that passes I feel like I am getting better, but just as I get on a roll, the horror of it returns in my mind. I look at a picture of him and think it wasn’t supposed to happen this way. He was supposed to see his daughter get her Masters degree, see his grandson grow up and take him fishing and hunting and camping. It was all he spoke about. I was supposed to grow old with him and retire and become the old folks that hang out in McDonalds for the discount coffee. 4 weeks have passed and I see no end right now for the heartache I am feeling. People around me have moved on, the world goes on as if nothing happened. Sibling loss is more painful than anyone can imagine. I spent 37 years living my life around him, measuring my success and failures against him. Sharing childhood moments, loss of our mother, good times, bad times, family, friends, everything. I miss him so much.

  22. Lana said on July 2, 2011 at 2:57 am ... #

    I lost my brother on may 16 , 2011 to pancreatic cancer , he was only 36 years old , 10 days shy of his 37th birthday! he was an oncologist, who chose this path since my mom died of cancer when she was 56 years old, my father died when I was 6 and he was 12 ! I miss him so much , and it seems that I can’t live my life anymore , and I just don’t want to! I want to die to I pray everyday that I get cancer too and die so that I can join my family! he was my everything, he was my hero , smart, handsome, witty , compassionate to his patients and everyone else. It is just unfair , his daughter is only 4 years old, he just didn’t want for his daughter to grow up without a father , since we grew up without my father! I still feel what happened is unreal or it is only a nightmare and I will wake up any minute! life is worthless to me now ! I want to be dead , it should’ve been me , not my brother! I was so attached to him ! I just can’t go on without him and I don’t want to !

  23. Ashleigh said on July 8, 2011 at 2:22 pm ... #

    I lost my older sister to a car accident on friday jan 13 2006..she was 18 with an 8 month old son, my nephew and her boyfriend survived the accident, we didnt blame her bf who was driving the car we knew it was a horrible accident and nothing was intentional.. but now its been 5 yrs and Quincy just turned 6 its so hard to see him without his mommy hes a spitting image of her! I try not to think about her but i can get her off my mind, im 20 now and its just so weird to be older then she was at the time of her death… i feel her all around me im always seeing 113 EVERYWHERE.. i never went to counseling and i just recently searched the internet about losing a sibling, it feels good not to be alone! but the more i read the more im learning about why i have trust issues and why i get really sad and angry about her when im just in a bad mood, its like the moment i get pissed i start thinking about the bad things that always happen and she always comes first, ill look at the articles in the paper and listen to sad songs just so i can feel close to her… i went to a physic and ive never felt the way i did that day, she came through and i know many people dont believe in this but if u get a chance to go to a real one, GO! It was literally like this woman was talking for my sister the things she said how she said it, what she knew i just felt so close to her.. i asked her about seeing 113 everywhere and she said u dont even need the answer to that u already know its her shes with u everyday.. After the death of her i felt if anyone else is going to die on me it wont hurt as bad.. both my grandfathers died since then and i just wasnt sad, it just wasnt the same and i feel as though i lost the most important and closest person to me, i can get through whatever now.. She was my only sister, so growing up since then and seeing my friends with their siblings i would get so jealous of there relationships.. what made me really mad is when they would wish hurtful things on them, they just dont understand it from our point of view bc if we could go back to that day and change what happened we would in a heartbeat… i would take her spot anyday just so she could be here with her son and everyone else who loves and misses her… i love you so much Jaimie keep smiling down on us<3

  24. carmen said on December 24, 2011 at 1:43 pm ... #

    Here it is Christmas Eve…I lost my brother (my best friend, my father figure) on Oct, 24th, 2011. I just turned both my cell and home phone off. Since my sister-in-law and even his son (who I am very close to) don’t even acknowledge my loss and grief that makes it even harder. He was only 4 yrs. older than me and we had a very hard childhood and I always looked to him for guidance and protection. Only 2 yrs ago he was diagnosed with brain cancer, he was so healthy other than that. My sister-in-law never told me that he would not get better, so his death came as such a shock. I hurt so much, so angry at everyone (even God), I am now having some medical problems myself. I want to go to on but anger comes out of no where (it seems) and I feel ill – when I have plans to go somewhere. Actually, I wish I were the one,,,I pray all the time that I die soon. My husband is trying to understand and be supportive but I am turning away from him. I JUST HURT. Thanks for listening.

  25. Gail said on June 27, 2012 at 11:12 am ... #

    I lost my brother in November 2011 we were very close only 101/2 months apart I miss him so much even though I had him for 68 yrs I wish I could of had him longer.
    Seeing everyone’s comments makes me feel that I am not alone in the mourning of missing my brother.
    We went through grammar and high school together we would dance together and make up our own steps my friends were his friends and his friends were mine. So many happy memories.

  26. Emma McDermott said on July 26, 2012 at 6:57 pm ... #

    I lost my lovely brother Trevor on 25 May 2012. He died in a car crash. His baby girl was just 15 weeks old and now she looks just like him. He was a great great guy, I miss him dreadfully. X

  27. confused said on July 27, 2012 at 3:27 am ... #

    my older brother was killed about a month a go by an 18 wheeler who went into his lane. how can this be a young man who has a family and is doing the right things in his life die suddenly? how do you not hate the driver that caused this accident? how do you move forward in life with this empty gap? i keep waiting for him to walk through the door and be like this was all just a mix up. i try hard to be strong but now i am angry in denial feeling a little lifeless. i had my doctor up my meds and going to try and start counseling. i just want my brother back. to hug to pick on me to tell me how i will always be his little sister and to hear his laugh to see his smile to just be normal again. how do you start to do this thing called normal that will never be the same again?

  28. Sharon said on July 31, 2012 at 1:01 am ... #

    Lana,
    I’m so very sorry for your losses, you have lost your dad, mother and brother. I know the pain seems to much at times to handle. But please don’t feel like you want to die also. Your little neice needs you to share so much of your loving family with her. Especially your brother her dad. I know the loss is so deep, I lost two brothers 5 months apart from each other and it hurt so much. Your dad, mom, brother would want you to be happy and live life and share their life with others. As long as you are here they are alive in your memory and your heart. There is so much to share with your little neice. She needs her Aunt. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Losing a sibling is very hard, and also a dad and mom. You wil make it through this heartache. I share in your sorrow.

  29. Jeff said on September 19, 2012 at 2:37 pm ... #

    In 1960 I was 12 years old, my 6 year old
    brother ‘disappeared’ during an over night
    camping trip with the YMCA when left to
    walk back alone from a hike. The search for
    him lasted two weeks with law enforcement
    and volunteers covering 50 miles of area
    in July of that year. My my parents and
    I were racked with anxity and grief.

    I never saw my brother again, and my
    parents desolved into mutual grief and
    recrimination. They didn’t obtain
    therapy of any kind and neither did I,
    at the time. They didn’t divorce but
    lived apart in our family home, with
    no real communication with each other
    or with myself.

    I was experencing what today would be
    diagnosed a PTSD, chronic nightmares
    of my brother being murdered. Unable
    to focus in school I fell hopelessly
    behind for the next six years. And,
    fighting depression and anxiety on and
    off for the rest of my life.

    At age 23 I was able to attend university
    and later graduate school and marry. In
    2007 I learned that a psychopathic killer
    of children when cornered in 1971 confessed
    to police. He was sencenced to death and
    hanged himself in prison. A research
    reporter and author was working with
    police departments on “cold cases” and
    he contacted me with this information.

    My life experence is that unresolved grief
    and loss holds on for a life time.

  30. Evelina said on November 11, 2012 at 12:42 pm ... #

    I am 18 years old.Two months ago I’ve lost my twin sister. We were both diagnosed with CML 6 years ago.Her situation was getting worse day by day, she was suffering so much that sometimes although I wanted to be there by her side I couldn’t stand there and just watching her being in pain and not being able to do anything to help her.

    We all thought we would lose her when she was in a terrible car accident when we were 5. She was months in a comma,and when she fianally woke up we faced the horrible truth:she would never walk again.But she was strong and she kept doing things she was able to do, supporting me when I should be there and support her. Then cancer came and since I was diagnosed first she was there for me every day not leaving by my side holding my hand during chemos,helping me deal the side effects and my feelings.Two months after that,she was diagnosed with CML too.She never complained about anything. Even when she was in a lot of pain she was never crying in front of me because she didn’t want me to get sad.

    Her sistuation started getting worse last summer and soon she got in blast crisis.She was a mess, lost so much weight but yet she had the courage to smile and support me.I was there every day and night for the last 4 months.I think deep inside me I knew she wasn’t going to make it but I also wanted to keep the hope of us two being cured and go back to our lives together.

    But that never happened.I lost half of myself,my life,my soul….I lost everything on 24/09/2012 that awful night when she turned to see me in the eye while we were lying together on her hospital bed and starting talking to me about the things I should do after she would be gone.I stopped her not wanting to hear what she wanted to tell me.She was so tired after so many years of fights and chemos and numerous other therapies and operations that she sould barely make her voice audible.She asked me to keep fighting and if we ever find a bone marrow donor,I should do the trasplantation.About an hour later she died in my arms.

    Now two months after her death how can I accept the transplanation? How can I accept another chance in life when my twin is dead and the only thing I’m thinking of is a way to go to her? She’s been part of me for 18 years,we were doing everything together and now how am I supposed to live without her? I’ll never see her face,her smile,i’ll never touch her again,hug her,kiss her….This is not life.

    If I won’t go to her soon, there is no way I’ll ever get over that undearable pain. My heart is aching so much.

  31. Kay said on November 16, 2012 at 4:17 pm ... #

    Dave- my older brother was 2 years older than me when he died tragically in 2008. It has just been 4 years since his funeral. It saddens me to think dave died amongst strangers and was not given a real chance. He truely was my role model, i spent my whole life until i was 21 looking up to him.
    Its been 4 years and iv found it so hard to find the right support. Its so hard to think others have felt this pain. You feel so.mixed. relieved he didnt have children who would miss him now but also wishing he had that mini him to see grow up.
    Ive justhad myvown daughter who brings me to tears when i thimk she will never meet her amazing uncle dave whod have been in awe of her and spoiled her rotten no doubt.
    I truely miss him every day. I still feel the ache in my heart and deep in the depths of my being. Why my brother? Why my soulmate? Though id never wish this upon my worst enemy

  32. Kay said on November 16, 2012 at 4:20 pm ... #

    Ooops i hadnt finished.

    Though…it does get better. Life is worth living and we can remember and love that person we once knew.

    Good luck to you all. You are stronger than you think. Xx

  33. mike said on November 21, 2012 at 11:11 am ... #

    I lost my brother on he was 48 I’ve been living I’ve been living in torment ever since and have so much . I’m pretty much al I’m pretty much all alone now . that it’s paralythat it’s paralyzing me left m t left me 2 weeks ago which it’s making everything so much harder as thoughas no meaning now when me and her split up she said some pretty mean things about me and my deceased brother and those words are wearing on me. My brother was a great person I couldn’t ask for a better 1 i wake up in the middle of the night crying also when I wake up in the morning I’m sad and depressed day and night

  34. Mary said on December 9, 2012 at 3:07 pm ... #

    I lost my younger and only brother 5 years ago on my birthday. He never failed to call to wish me a happy birthday. He didn’t make that call in 2007. He died unexpectedly of a heart attack at the age of 54. My birthday is not mine anymore because it will always be the anniversary of his death. Oh how I wish, I could get just one more call from him in his deep voice saying, “Hey, happy birthday, this is your brother” ( as if I had other brothers) I would tell him how much his call meant to me and how much I loved him.

  35. Alexandra said on January 10, 2013 at 2:42 pm ... #

    My little sister Clare died in her sleep on Christmas Eve of 2012 at the age of 22. Although we are six years apart, we basically considered ourselves twins. What that loss that did to me, the places that my grief took me were at times truly frightening. But the human body, and mind, and spirit are truly resilient things. Right before the year anniversary of her funeral, I was speaking to a friend who himself was coming up on the 20 year anniversary of his own sister dying. We were talking about our sisters and feeling pretty down. I looked at him at one point and said ‘this is never going to get any better, is it?’. I’ll never forget his reply. He looked at me for a long time and then said very slowly ‘No, it will get better. It’s like love. It can only get better.’ I had never thought of it like that. True love never goes away, and only gets better. The love that my sister and I have of between us can only ever grow. I realize that the physical circumstances of the relationship she and I now have has changed, but her love for me and my love for her will always remain. And remain active. True. Fierce. Sister Love.

  36. fran said on February 19, 2013 at 7:37 pm ... #

    Thank you all for your posts. I am so worried about my son. His older sister was killed suddenly in a storm and five weeks later Dec 5th 2012 his dad (my husband) died of cancer. I am the only one he cries to and is sad with. He saus he wished his sister were there to help him grieve his dad. It seems like too much for a 21 year old. i am so sad for him, sad for me. Half our family gone in 5 weeks.

  37. Sandra Hardin said on March 11, 2013 at 5:07 pm ... #

    I lost my son a little over three years ago. He left behind 3 brothers and i would like to know how to talk to my children about the loss of their oldest brother. I know the hut. They just say their fine. I don’t feel they are. I’m not. Any suggerstions.

  38. Bernadette said on March 11, 2013 at 6:51 pm ... #

    Sandra Hardin I am so sorry. My parents call it the “Club” you never wanted to belong to. They lost a sparkle in their eye, you can see it, my parents have never been the same. On January 28, 1985, my world came crashing down around my heart, as did your boys 3 years ago. I am the eldest of 10 children and when my brother died I felt like a piece of me was gone too. I had to be strong for the others and my parents. For the life of me I can not not remember anything from school at that time, nothing of what I did with my young children or my husband either. I have lost 2 full weeks of my life because I felt like a robot on remote control. He has been now for 28 years and the pain is still as fresh as it was then but I can laugh at the funny things he did and said, I can actually talk about him without falling into a crying spell almost every time now and I can smile because he was here and a part of me for so long, well 17 years, I am thankful he was here. I could not tell my parents for a long time how I really felt because I knew they were devastated, hell I was devastated. Maybe your boys just can’t yet. I know that all of my younger brothers and sisters came to me and talked about Eddie before they talked to my parents about him, so maybe they are trying to work it out among themselves.
    Two years ago in 2011 March 16, I lost another brother again suddenly, and once again I was thrown into the pit of hell called grief and once again I had to be the strong one and help mom and dad deal with the all enveloping sadness, I watched as another light faded in their eyes. And once again all of us, the siblings, helped each other through the pain. We are still grieving for both of them and probably will for the rest of our lives. My brothers and sisters are my world, no one knows my secrets and my faults and desires like they did and do. They were all like my own live dolls, I helped teach each and every one of them to talk and walk and play. I helped to form them into the people they became and in some ways I was an extra parent for them. What I am trying to say is I am 2/10s short of the whole now and it hurts.

  39. Amanda said on March 11, 2013 at 6:55 pm ... #

    Tomorrow is my brothers 26th birthday and I wish more than anything he was here! He fought and sadly lost his battle to cancer. Some days I wish I didn’t have to get out of bed. The thought of him not being here anymore absolutely kills me!!! This was not only my big brother but my other half. I lost my dad to cancer too back in 2006 just after I turned 16. After losing him, I never thought my brother would be taken from me too… The 2 most important men in my life are gone & there was nothing I could do. I hate you cancer!!!!!!!

  40. Almut said on March 12, 2013 at 5:39 pm ... #

    Thank you for writing this article. My older sister (at 38) and my niece (at 8), were in a fatal car crash seven years ago. My grief was bearable. My Mom died of cancer last September after a one month decline. She was 73. She lived life full out. It was hard to see her go, but I was glad she wouldn’t suffer anymore. Three months later I was just getting my bearings again, but then my brother (at 43) was killed in a vehicle crash. Everything collapsed in and around me. I wasn’t able to fulfill my job duties and I resigned from my work. I felt that I needed to really let myself grieve. My sense was that I have to reassemble myself as a siblingless sibling, so that I can go on with life. It’s been three months, I’m still struggling, but I can think a bit better. I have, like this article says, felt dismissed because it was ‘just my brother.’ I am not eligible for any part of the insurance payout, only my father is – even legally the intensity of the sibling relationship is ignored. I was very close to my brother, we had plans for our future together…thank you for acknowledging the huge hole loosing siblings can result in.

  41. Chad said on March 18, 2013 at 5:04 pm ... #

    Thank you, Jill…what a wonderful piece! I lost my twin sibling one day after we were born, and I carry her with me always. It’s so hard for people to understand the loss even nearly 40 years later, and often, my heart breaks a little for them, because I feel bad that a friend doesn’t know what to do or say. Yet, often, it just does me good to acknowledge Cathryn was here with me for even a little while, and that she’s with me every day.

  42. Gwen said on March 18, 2013 at 6:37 pm ... #

    Thanks Jill for this wonderful piece. I know how you and everyone here feels. I lost my only brother almost 5 yrs ago, and it is so hard to live without him. I miss him so much. We were only 2 yrs apart and very close. He was murdered at the age of 38. Sometimes, like today which is his birthday, I am very angry at the man who killed him, but other days I’m just sad. I really don’t feel like people understand how hard it is to lose a sibling.I would never wish this pain on even my worst enemy.The only thing that makes me feel better is to remember him and how much fun we had together. I know people wish I would quit talking and posting statuses on fb about how much I love and miss him, they think I should just get over it, but I can’t, and I really don’t ever want to forget my brother, and doing these things helps me to feel better. I pray for each of you who have lost a sibling, and I understand your pain.

  43. Jillian said on March 19, 2013 at 1:20 pm ... #

    I lost my younger brother last month & my whole life has completely changed. Not a single day goes by where I don’t think about him. But thanks to my amazing friend, she has introduced me to this site. Everyone says “But he’s in a better place now.” I realize that, but you don’t have to repeat it over & over. I think of it more as he gave his life to give someone else a new life. Someone who will make a difference in the world. I feel more sympathy for my younger sister, who was his twin & probably his best friend. Truly no one can understand your loss, because everyone’s is different. Doesn’t matter if it’s suicidal, drug related, homicide related or medically related. But the fact that there’s sites like this one where someone dealing with such grief or occurance, they can come, talk, listen or just connect to others facing similar events in their life. I wish the best for everyone on here & I hope we all can realize life does go on & that’s what our passed loved ones would want. It’s not that we’re forgetting them. They’re always in our hearts. But it’s time to release your life of sadness & anger & instead bring peace to yourself & family. Sending all love to everyone who’s lost a sibling.

  44. Sleepless said on March 21, 2013 at 12:41 pm ... #

    I lost my younger sister last June of 2012. She was only 42 when she passed in her sleep. We just spoke only 2 days earlier all day long, even told her to come over for dinner, but she declined, we continued to talked into the night. She lived only a few blocks away. My husband and I have been helping her for a long time when the rest of the family gave up. I couldn’t she was my sister I could never turn my back no matter what. I knew her past & present and the chalanges in her life that nobody else knew. And so did my husband. We both were there to help her. When she past I was pissed off on the way my family, and her son handled the affairs. No memorial, no nothing, just a quick cremation. At first I had nightmares of her struggling to stay alive and I would try to save her but always fail and she would die. This went on for the first 2 months. I thought I was going insane. My Dr. put me on medication and the dreams stopped. Now I am no longer on medication and it is 10 months and the dreams are starting back up. I have never been so depressed and turned myself into a recluse. I don’t know how to go forward in a health way, as I am disable with a prior stroke, and now have M.S. and every MRI on the brain shows more problems. I have children and know I need to snap out of this and try. But just yesturday morning I woke up from another dream from my sister. And again so vivid and real life, she was calling me and I heard her on the phone telling me she didn’t pass away and she was alive. She told me she ran away and got married to a great man and she is better. I heard her voice so real. I woke up talking to her. I need to know does anyone experience this?? If you do or did, how do you cope and what can I do to make it stop? I need to make it stop. It is tearing me up. I can control things when I am awake of course, but not when I am asleep. I am back to not wanting to sleep. I love and miss her so much. It hurts my heart. I am truly sorry for everyone else that has lost a brother or sister. But I can’t be the only one that has constant nightmares and dreams. I really need help on this one. Thank you, Sleepless

  45. Glenda said on March 25, 2013 at 1:00 pm ... #

    My sweet sister-in-law sent me this today because I am having a hard time with the grief of losing my brother – her husband. He was the sweetest brother ever – we grew up in an unhappy home with a mean step-father so we were very close. He only found out 3 weeks ago that he had cancer, and passed away in 2 weeks. My mother and I were able to spend days with him in Hospice while others, including his wife, stayed with him at night. We had the opportunity to tell him how much we loved him and how much my kids and grandkids loved him. I feel so bad for my mother, losing her only son, and my sister-in-law since they were married for 41 years, and I appreciate this article because I am grieving, too, but in a different way. Thanks so much.

  46. lori duncan-patterson said on March 26, 2013 at 10:31 pm ... #

    My only sibling, my little brother, my hero and my kids’ beloved uncle : Michael Steven Duncan – my brother was suddenly diagnosed with stage 4 terminal multiple myeloma on aug 20th 2005 and died 4 months later. My world will never be the same and I will miss him for the rest of my life, I wake up some mornings after seven years and forget he is gone. Those are the best moments! I miss my brother

  47. Ellary said on March 27, 2013 at 3:45 am ... #

    @Sleepless…I also have the dreams you talk about. I lost my only sister last year to alcoholism, she was just 44 years old. I tried and tried to help her for years but eventually wore down myself and just couldn’t anymore. She was living on the floor of a friend’s house when she passed. Though we had always been best friends and had our spats through the years as sisters do, I hadn’t talked to her in months. I called on her birthday in November of 2011 but had to leave a message. I didn’t talk to her but I heard her voice on Christmas Eve saying she wasn’t coming for Christmas because she didn’t want to see me or our mother. I didn’t think much of it or say anything because we’d been through periods of silence before and I thought we had more time. I figured it would blow over and continued to hold out hope that someday she would get herself sober and straight so that we could be the sisters and friends we were supposed to be…family gatherings, kids outtings, dinners, movies, girls nights out. She was gone days later on January 2nd, 2012. The pain is unbearable. It’s not just a gaping wound, it’s like half of my entire soul is missing. My childhood feels like it didn’t even exist because no one else knew me like my Big Sis did. She practically raised me. My future is gone because the hopes of a normal life with her died when she did. My present is a mess because I don’t know how to “be” without her. I have these wild ideas that she’s still alive but has run away to get away from her own demons. It takes everything I have within my being to bring my head and heart back to reality. I will dream sometimes that the two of us are sitting cross-legged on my bed talking. I used to be able to hear her voice in my head but it’s fading now that T-Mobile has turned off her cell phone and I can’t call her voicemail anymore. I would struggle not to wake up from these dreams just so that I could be with her for a few moments longer. I would force myself to stay asleep for so long that I’d be late to work. Other than the few dreams I’ve had I don’t feel her. I don’t know if I’m blocking her somehow or if there isn’t anything “after”. Not feeling her is shaking my faith. I need to feel her so badly and nobody around me seems to understand. She is the one I’d be talking with right now about this situation if she were here, but she’s not and that makes me so angry. Angry at her, angry at the disease, angry at our family, angry at myself…I’m just angry. I try not to even think about it most days, denying I even had a sister, because this is what it comes down to, me up late, by myself, posting private information on a website, reaching out to people i don’t know in hopes of understanding all of this. Trying to figure out ways to sort out the guilt, the grief, the anger, the relief, the lonliness, the pain, the loss, the fear, the failure…I just can’t seem to kick this. I so desperately feel that I have failed her. I was her sister, her only sister, the one who knew her challenges but yet I took my eye off the ball and let her down. I feel like I’ve let the whole family down because they’ve always looked to me, though I’m the baby of the family, to fix things. I couldn’t fix her and now I can’t fix this. I will never be the same yet day to day I’m out in the world pretending to be that person I always was just so others won’t feel awkward.

    I am so terribly sorry for your loss and don’t want to trivialize your feelings by saying that I know what you’re going through, but I do to some extent. I so wish I had some great words of wisdom for you but I don’t. The only thing working for me right now is denial and my son. Fake it ’til you make it, I guess. My young son helps give me a reason for getting up each day, putting my shoes on and going to work. I don’t know what else to do. My hope is that I’ll keep my heart numb and disconnected long enough so that once I defrost it enough time will have passed to make this tolerable.

    I’m sorry for the long post, I guess I just felt touched to reach out and let you know that you aren’t alone and to tell you that I will keep you in my thoughts, hoping for peace for us all.

  48. maddy said on May 30, 2013 at 2:14 am ... #

    I was 2 when my little sister died at 5 weeks old my friends would say i guess its easier cause you didnt know her but it hurts so much and the memory of her death is my first and i constantly have nightmares of that night waking up and finding police in my home my mom was consumed my her death and wasnt there for a couple years mentally and last year in my family a little boy died bringing everything back i dont oprn up to anyone and when my talked to me about therapy i shut her out im 14 and still cant get over it i wonder all the time how it would be if she was here and i feel like i have no one to turn to cause most people think i was to young to remember but sometimes the nightmares are so bad they feel real

  49. Laura said on July 29, 2013 at 10:23 pm ... #

    My sister, age 32, committed suicide a little over a week ago. She leaves behind 2 little girls. She and I got along, but were never super duper close. We shared a lot of stuff (at least I THOUGHT we did, but I never even knew she was depressed). I knew she lived with a verbally abusive husband, who had hit and choked her once several years back, and I had repeatedly asked her to move in with me (as did my mother). Now I feel both hurt angry that she chose to live in a bad situation, then to take her life rather than let me help her. I feel like I can’t talk to my mom, who is trying to keep it together and adjust to become a mother to my nieces. I talk to my dad daily, but mostly to help him, since he and my sister hadn’t spoken in 8 years (her choice). I feel so sad and lonely without my sister, and feel silly for feeling so lost when my daily life won’t even really change (due to the fact my sister and I only talked 8-10 times a year anyway). I just long for the relationship I wanted and TRIED to have with her and will now never be able to have

  50. Alina said on August 18, 2013 at 9:34 am ... #

    My brother was murdered on January 15, 2011. My family had to go to his murderers trial last week. Hung jury. So, we have to do this all over again. I suffer from PTSD already being a veteran. I don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel anymore. What’s the point? Don’t feel like I want to be anywhere right now.

Leave a Comment

Your email is never shared.

*
*

By submitting a comment, you are agreeing to our Terms & Conditions.