The older we get, the more we experience death and loss. As children, the most common death we may go through is the that of grandparents; then as we grow older, aunts and uncles. In our prime years, we may say goodbye to elderly parents. One loss that is too often downplayed is the death of a sibling—often called “the forgotten loss.” Our feelings can be trumped by the other relational losses in the family. Everyone feels for the parent who has lost a child, the child who has lost a parent, the spouse who has lost their life partner; but too often, the grief a brother and sister are put through is ignored.
A friend named Stacey says, “Honestly, I feel like sibling loss is ignored almost completely, people worry about parents, spouses and children and seem to completely forget about us even though we are supposed to spend our ENTIRE lives with them. I’ll never understand why we’re forgotten, but we are.” Hence, the forgotten loss.
It has been said that when a parent dies, you lose the past. When a child dies, you lose the future. When a sibling dies, you lose the past and the future. Gone is the person we confided in, who knew our secrets and vowed to never reveal them to a soul. Our instant singing partner when our favorite song came on the radio—the person who was supposed to stand up with us at our wedding and be the fun, outgoing auntie or uncle won’t be there to fill in the parenting gaps we might leave open.
What can we do now? We can make it our mission to uplift and support those siblings who have fallen into the same category as we did, and share what we’ve learned the hard way. Attached is a great article listing things everyone should know about siblings and grief.
We are always here to listen—please reach out for individual counseling, and if that isn’t something you’re ready for, there are numerous local group meetings in person.