Chapter 2: Recognizing and understanding your grief
Your unique relationship with your sibling
We weren’t always close, but we had experiences in common. We were pieces of each other’s stories. I’ll never have that again with anyone in the same way.
We butted heads all through our lives. I always meant to tell him that in spite of all our differences, I loved him and counted on him.
Whether you were close or not, the death of a sibling is significant. They are part of your history and your identity. You had a unique relationship with your sibling that can never be replicated, and this will impact your grief. Click on the boxes below to see examples of how your relationship may impact your grief.
…you may have shared experiences that others in your family did not. Perhaps you kept secrets for each other, shared interests or hobbies, or played sports together that no one else in the family did.
…you may feel your sibling understood you in a way no one else did, or you may have argued, competed, hurt, and loved one another in ways no one else could.
…you may have been hurt by your sibling, who may have been disrespectful or abusive. They may have struggled with mental illness or addiction.
Take time to reflect on your relationship with your sibling. What do you miss? What do you not miss? This can help you to identify losses that may not be obvious or easy to name.
What may help
Click on the boxes below to reveal ideas about what might help in context of your relationship with your sibling.
- Acknowledge your loss.
- Look for supportive family and friends who will listen to you.
- Although your sibling is no longer physically present, you can still find ways to maintain your connection with them. Use photographs, music, writing, or drawing to help you keep memories alive and with you in your life.
- Acknowledge the depth of your loss, which likely includes a second identity of “we.”
- Consider connecting with others who are grieving the loss of their twin. This might be through an in-person or online support group, or through reading books or blogs. You might also find it helpful to consult with a grief counsellor with experience in twin bereavement.
- Certain dates or situations may be particularly challenging, such as your birthday. Consider planning ahead and finding ways to celebrate your twin on this shared day. It may be helpful to be with people who want to celebrate your life while also acknowledging and supporting your grief, or you might prefer to be alone.
- Although you likely have a deep, internal sense of your twin, you may want to find ways to externalize it. There are many ways of doing this, such as hanging photographs or naming something in their memory.
- Your grief may be more difficult as you deal with mixed and sometimes intense feelings and thoughts.
- Give yourself time with these thoughts and feelings, and seek out supportive people who can help you sort through your experience.
- If intense or disturbing thoughts and feelings persist, or if you feel “stuck” in them, seek help from a grief counsellor.