Chapter 3: How your sibling’s death may affect you
How your sibling died
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.
Maybe your sibling was ill for some time, or maybe they died at an older age of natural causes. Their death may have been expected, or you may have had some time to prepare, but this doesn’t mean you won’t grieve when it has happened. Old or new thoughts and feelings my come up. Depending on whether or not you were present, you may have vivid recollections or imaginings of your sibling’s last days or moments.
You may have been shocked or completely surprised by your sibling’s death. If there was violence involved, your grief may be impacted by a traumatic response. Some deaths can seem both sudden and expected: although you may have thought your sibling would die, you didn’t know exactly when or how.
You may be grieving not only the death of your sibling but also that of another family member or a friend. You may feel that you can’t “catch your breath” or that in moving among losses, you can deal with only one at a time. It will likely take you longer to identify and grieve your different losses.
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.