Chapter 3: How your sibling’s death may affect you

How your sibling died

I've been there
Heather shares about family decision making after their sister Colleen had a stroke.(3:22)Video transcript
Karen speaks about the grief she experience before and after her sister's expected death.(3:22)Video transcript
George shares about his brother's sudden death and the impact the pandemic has had on this grief.(3:22)Video transcript

I was living abroad when they died. I tried to give as much support as I could, but the distance was a challenge – even to get updates. I felt so far away and helpless, and then when they died, I felt a lot of guilt that I wasn’t there to say goodbye and support the rest of my family.   

It was very hard to see her go through so much pain. She was very stoic and never complained. We all wanted her to keep going and to live, but in the end, she was so tired and wasn’t able to do the things she loved. She told us that she was ready to stop treatment and that she was ready to go.

My brother was always goofing around and living on the edge. This took a toll on the rest of our family, as he was always a source of worry. Now he’s gone and I’m left with such mixed feelings.

The circumstances of your sibling’s death will influence your grief response. Click on the boxes below to see some examples.

What may help

Keep in mind that it’s normal to experience thoughts and feelings of grief after a death even if you began to grieve your loss earlier.

In time, your memories or imaginings of your sibling’s death will likely become less prominent as you are more able to recall who were they were before their death.

A sudden, unexpected death can take longer to grieve. You may need time to even believe your sibling has died.

Remind yourself that you didn’t have a crystal ball and didn’t know when your sibling would die.

If your sibling’s death was violent or if you’re grieving more than one death, you may need extra support from a professional counsellor with grief and/or trauma training.

Helpful resources