Chapter 4: Impact on family and friends

Extended family

When my brother died, one of my aunts was very helpful. She seemed to know just what I needed.

My cousin was an amazing support to me after my sister died. She would come over and cook dinner so we could eat and talk. Sometimes she would help me to get out of the house for a bit. The most helpful thing of all was that she didn’t try to fix anything or try to fix me. She understood in a way that others didn’t. She just listened and helped to take care of me.  

Because my sister was my twin, I found dealing with her partner’s family difficult. I think they did too. There were constant comparisons and questions.

Depending on your circumstances, you may have more than one extended family. For example, after your sibling’s death, you may have more interactions than usual not only with your aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, nephews, and nieces, but also with your sibling’s in-laws or other family members. Because family size can vary, you may be dealing with a very large or very small number of people, some of whom you may barely know and others whom you know well or feel very close to.

Grief can bring people together, and it can also amplify personalities. This can result in mutual support and new connections, or it may give new life to old conflicts. Within your own extended family circles, you may witness or experience both ends of this spectrum, as well as anything in between. Try to be as patient and kind as you can while also taking care of yourself.