The death of an adult sibling, especially one in early adulthood, is a shocking loss. We think about losing grandparents and parents when they reach a certain age, but not our siblings. Not the ones who have walked with us through childhood and adolescence and who were supposed to be there through our adulthood, as well. Sibling loss is a unique loss, and as such, presents unique challenges and emotions.
It is common for siblings to feel like they are not allowed to feel deep grief, since they are not the deceased’s spouse or parent. The spouse and parents may receive more support from the community than the adult siblings, thus invalidating their grief.
Feeling lost is another common reaction to the death of a sibling. A person who shared the surviving sibling’s past and should have shared their future is now gone, and it is natural for that change to feel jolting and devastating.
Guilt is a normal response to any loss. In sibling loss, guilt may manifest over things left unsaid or over a feeling of responsibility for the sibling’s death. Survivor’s guilt is also common, especially if the sibling feels the life of the deceased was more influential than their own.
In addition to the burden of their own grief, adult siblings may become concerned about the effect of grief on their parents. Surviving siblings may ignore their own grief in order to spare their parents, thus preventing their healing.
At Stonebriar Counseling Services, we are passionate about providing quality psychotherapy from a Christian perspective in order to help individuals and families navigate life’s challenges. If you are struggling with the loss of a sibling, please contact us to schedule an appointment.