Chapter 2: Recognizing and understanding your grief
I had three siblings. I’m now the only one left. It feels so strange – like such big parts of my life story are just wiped right out.
When my sister died suddenly and unexpectedly at 41, I had a lifetime of memories with her. I don’t feel like there’s anything left unsaid, and that is about the best thing that you can feel when someone has died.
The English language has no word for someone who is grieving the death of a sibling; and you may find that some people don’t understand what it means to you. This can leave you feeling alone and isolated in your grief.
Next to your parents, your brother or sister may have been the person who knew you the longest. You and they may have shared countless experiences and memories – the joys and heartbreak of childhood, the family “inside” jokes. No one else will know what growing up in your family was like the way your sibling did.
Siblings can be your best friend or fiercest rival or, at times, both. Your relationship may have waxed and waned over the years. You may have been close in your younger years but become more distant, for various reasons, as adults. Perhaps you fought almost constantly as children but grew to respect and like one another as adults.
This chapter looks at how your unique relationship with your sibling may affect your grief, and it invites you to reflect on the different losses you may be experiencing. Identifying and understanding the meaning of these losses is an important step in finding ways of coping that work best for you.