Sibling grief feels like second-hand grief. It’s often not seen as being as valid as parental grief, but there shouldn’t be a comparison. The same resources should be available for sibling grief and loss.
He had such a great sense of humour, and I miss sharing family stories with him that gave us both a chuckle.
This resource has been designed to help you understand and care for yourself as you grieve. It was developed by the Canadian Virtual Hospice in collaboration with national grief specialists and people who have grieved a sibling’s death. We are grateful to those who shared their wisdom and experiences.
About this resource: When Your Sibling Has Died
Grief after the death of a sibling is sometimes not recognized as being as significant as other kinds of grief. You may have been both adults or you may have been a child when your sibling died; your sibling may have died unexpectedly or after a long illness. Regardless of the circumstances, you had your own unique relationship with your sibling, which will greatly influence your grief. In addition to your own grief, you may be dealing with other family members, friends, and children who have also been affected by this death. You may be experiencing a range of thoughts and feelings that can change as time passes.
We recommend that you review the nine Grief Basics modules found on our MyGrief.ca site:
You might be reading this shortly after your sibling died, or sometime down the road. We encourage you to revisit these resources often as you may only be able to absorb so much at any one time. What you find helpful may change over time. You might recognize your experiences or find that some of them aren’t reflected here. If there is content you believe should be added, please tell us about it in the survey at the end.
As you read this, you may have strong emotions or feel uncomfortable. It’s okay to step away from it for a while, or it might help to talk with a trusted family member or friend. Canadian Virtual Hospice provides online Discussion Forums where you can connect with others who may have experienced similar losses. You can also our healthcare team a confidential question at Ask a Professional. You will receive a written response within three business days (not including Canadian statutory holidays).
A note about language
The term sibling is used inclusively in this resource. A sibling relationship can be biological, adoptive, through a marriage (step-sibling), through foster families, through family of choice, or any other connection where you have shared a sibling dynamic.Family is also used inclusively and refers to members of a person’s primary support network, including biological and chosen family, immediate and extended family, family through marriage, and friends.