Chapter 4: Impact on family and friends

If you have other siblings

I've been there
George shares that it's hard to grasp that his brother has died.(3:22)Video transcript

There were six of us, and now there are four. Their deaths have been different for each of us, but no matter how hard it’s been, we’ve tried to stick together and support each other the best we can. In some ways, their deaths have brought us closer.

My two older brothers don’t understand and appreciate just how much our sister’s death has impacted me. So I avoid talking with them about her and everything that happened. I don’t have a super close relationship with them, but I at least thought they would be supportive.

Just as you experience losses that are uniquely related to your relationship with your sibling who died, your other siblings will grieve losses that are unique to them and their relationships with that brother or sister. These differences greatly influence each person’s grief. If your family does not acknowledge and accept these differences, it may lead to additional stress.

If you were present when your sibling died, your experience and grief response will differ from that of any other siblings you have. They may have questions or even blame you; you may blame yourself or have “survivor guilt.”

The death of a family member can bring everyone together, or it can magnify conflicts and issues. You might find that you feel closer to your remaining siblings than you have in a long time – or even for the first time; or you may feel more distant or upset with each other than ever. Quite often, feelings are mixed.

What may help

Remember that each of you is unique with an equally unique relationship with the sibling who died. Each of you will grieve in your own way.

You may each feel something different from one moment to the next, and this can affect the way you respond to one another.

It can be helpful if you and your siblings talk about your grief together. If this is not possible, look for support elsewhere: from friends or a grief counsellor or support group.

Sometimes just knowing about these differences can help you to “make room” for each other’s needs.