The way we grieve our losses is impacted by many factors including: our own unique coping style, , our history of previous losses, our support systems and, the way we view the loss. The way we grieve is also impacted by the kind of loss we have had, in other words who died and what is the nature of your relationship with that person.
There are some common aspects to each different kind of loss. The death of my mother affects me differently than the death of your mother affects you, because we are different people. But we have some similarities in common: we might both feel like orphans, particularly if we have no other parent. Or maybe we are both struggling with difficult relationships with our siblings, now that our parent has died.
It can be helpful to look at different kinds of losses and see some of their commonalities. This helps us normalize our experience and helps us better understand what we are going through.
The death of a sibling can shake the family tree. When we lose a sibling, our history seems to pass in front of us. Bereaved siblings often say “I’ve lost the witness to my childhood”, “Who will I turn to talk about the family”.
Often grievers feel disenfranchised or misunderstood in their grief, even in their own family. “Nobody really understands how I feel”. Others ask “‘how is your mother doing, how is your sister-in-law doing, and the kids, no one ever asks about me?”
Grievers who lose a sibling often feel forgotten. There can also be a disconnection and further loss because sometimes in-laws, nieces and nephews separate from the primal family. A family is like a mobile, when a sibling dies, it’s as if a big piece of our primal family is gone and the mobile becomes unstable for a while.