Coping with the Grief of Losing a Sibling
An Unacknowledged Hurt
I am a 28 year old girl that lost her 29 year old brother very suddenly in a rather freak accident. Through my grieving process, I have discovered that there aren’t a lot of books written nor are there as many support groups out there to help people who are struggling with the loss of a sibling. I have actually found more support for people who are grieving the loss of a pet, than I have for people who have lost a brother or a sister. This isn’t to say that there aren’t some good materials out there, but there is not nearly enough in my opinion.
Why is that? I often ask myself this question. Is the relationship between siblings taken for granted? Does society feel that the majority of parents live for their children, so naturally they would be devastated, but most siblings move on in time and start families of their own? What about the siblings that haven’t done that yet? What about the ones whose main family life still centered around the brother or sister that is now gone? Why isn’t there more help out there for them?
The number one question I get asked above all others is, how are your parent’s doing? I don’t resent this question, as I am fully aware that losing a child is horrific, but what I don’t understand is why losing a brother or a sister doesn’t rank equally as high on that scale? As silly as it is, sometimes I actually think I have it worse than my parents. I justify in my head that if things follow Mother Nature’s original design, then they have a lot less time to wait to be reunited with him. My brother is someone that I have never known to not be a part of my life, since the day I was born. My parents on the other hand already lived a couple of decades without him. I, however, am forced to come to terms with the fact that although I had 28 years with him, I may very easily be facing living twice that long without him. It is very hard for a 28 year old to comprehend the concept of time. To me, that feels like forever. Another observation I have is that people often tell me that I need to be strong for my parents. Again, I don’t disagree with this. I know they are suffering tremendously right now, but the statement makes me wonder if people don’t really get how much I am suffering too. The change happened so quickly that I didn’t recognize the point in all of this when our roles switched places. My parents had always taken care of me, but for all intents and purposes, it appeared to me that it was now my job to take care of them. I gladly assume this responsibility. However, I wish people knew the internal struggle a sibling feels when losing one of their own. For me, he wasn’t just my brother, he was my friend. He was arguably my best friend. He knew me better than anyone else ever did or possibly ever could. To add fuel to the fire, the agony you feel over losing such a constant in your life is only compounded when you realize the only other constant you have ever known is gone as well. For many of us, throughout every major disappointment, tragedy and heartache, it is typically our parents that we turn to. Only this time, in our greatest hour of need, they can’t help us. They are so emotionally crushed, that they can barely help themselves.
I am not writing this to be selfish or to underestimate the grief that parent’s go through when having to deal with a tragedy this severe. I am only writing this to bring light to a hurt that is perhaps not acknowledged quite as often as it should be. I know there is nothing in the world that anyone can say or do to take our pain away, but sometimes it is nice to feel like people at least understand. Therefore, if there is ever a time in your life that you come in contact with a person like me, although it is very appropriate to ask about the parents, take a moment to ask how they are doing as well.