Houston, Texas counselor Beryl Kaminsky shares tips for handling sibling loss during the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) conference. She wrote Mending the Broken Heart: After Your Child Dies, which is also an audiobook. Working through the loss of a sibling can be traumatizing. Growing up in the shadow of sibling loss can put too much pressure on a child, which Kaminsky experienced first-hand as an adolescent. Your parents are grieving, the rest of your family is grieving, and siblings can feel pressure (imagined or not) to keep everyone together.
Then, at 27 years old, Kaminsky also lost her brother. Adult sibling loss comes with a myriad of other obstacles. Some people may think that an adult doesn’t grieve as deeply. However, siblings who are close in age often assume they will have one another for life. “I know what it’s like to lose a sibling, both as a child and as an adult.” Kaminsky’s experience has helped her to counsel others. The most common response she hears is “That must have been very hard for your parents.”
Losing Your Life Partner
Losing a sibling can dramatically change the dynamics of a family. Everyone might look to one another for support. There are some families that get stronger after the loss of a sibling/child, but many others struggle. Look to other members of your extended family, professional help, or your community, suggests Kaminsky.
Recognizing your limits and knowing when you need extra support is a sign of strength. Siblings, who are meant to be the longest relationship in your life, play a big role. When they die, you lose part of your past and part of your future. Even if you’re not close, they’re the only person you share such a rich history with.