Losing a Sibling

By: Matthew Funeral Home
Monday, July 13, 2020

Grief is a very normal response to losing a loved one, but when you lose a sibling; your grief can be confusing. The loss of a sibling can be painful, and hard to overcome. But you have the right to grieve for your sibling. The role siblings play in each other’s lives can be messy, and that is OK. 

Survivor Guilt

Many siblings, especially older ones, experience what is called survivor’s guilt. Survivor’s guilt is when you feel guilty for being alive when someone else passes. You may think a lot about “what if” this, and “if only” that. You may even feel responsible. Many people feel like they should have been able to prevent the loss of a loved one. But most of the time, it just happens. Life, and death, are not often something that we get to control. It is important to understand that you are not to blame for the loss of your loved one.

The Void of a Sibling

Siblings provide us with a lot of laughs, pain, support, and anger throughout our lives. But deep down, there is almost no one else in the world who you would fight harder for. Often, they feel the same way. Whether or not you were close to your sibling when they passed, that love and support are no longer there when you need it most. That void can be extremely difficult to deal with. Grief can be an avenue towards even more pain if you let it take control of your life. But it is important to keep fighting because they would want you to.

Redefined Roles

When a sibling passes away, it often changes the dynamic of the entire family. You may have to overcome your grief, as well as a whole new set of challenges. You may have new responsibilities. You may be the eldest child to aging parents now. You might have to take care of your nieces and nephews. You may have inherited property or business from them. Change and stress can exacerbate grief. It is important to try to develop new routines that can help you work through these new challenges while getting your own life back on track. 

Fear of Disease

When a loved one dies of a genetic disease like cancer, cystic fibrosis, or Alzheimer’s; it can be important to talk with your doctor, to see if you are at risk. However, sometimes a surviving sibling will become extremely worried that they will develop the disease as well. This can be a great motivator to change a diet or to alter the negative aspects of one’s life, but this fear can also be debilitating. It is important to not let the fear of developing cancer or another genetic disease take over your life.

The author of this post is not a professional therapist or counselor. For assistance in finding a grief counselor that is right for you, there are a number of resources out there. For our Grief Resource Center, written by Dr. Bill Webster, click here

For over 50 years, Matthew Funeral Home has been serving the Staten Island community. We can help with almost every aspect of your loved one’s memorial service. Our family is here to serve yours, every step of the way.

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