Dana Brophy: Siblings the Forgotten Mourners

Dana Brophy is the daughter of Alan Pedersen, Executive Director of The Compassionate Friends. Her personal experience with sibling loss has unfortunately made Brophy an expert on sibling loss. Her brother, Sean, died when he was 21 in a car accident. He was her only sibling and, even though she wasn’t a young child when he died, she found herself in the unique situation of suddenly having very protective parents. Her family is involved with Angels Across the USA, and Alan is a singer-songwriter who now specializes in grief music and performances.

“Sean was a very fun, hilarious guy,” Dana says. The  memories she has of him are brimming with fun and joy. She says she lost her best friend in so many ways, including the past history and everything she thought would happen in the future. Sean knew things about Dana nobody else knew and for siblings, losing the future she thought she would have hurt just as much as the “real loss.” She was 17 when he died, and it’s been ten years of healing (so far).

Finding the Right Fit

Initially, Dana tried going to therapy with her mother but it wasn’t the right solution at the time. Her parents both wanted her to heal and visibly grieve, but many times siblings grieve on their own or share it with friends. Children, even adult children, don’t want to cause their parents any additional pain so they stay quiet.

Now, ten years after Sean’s passing, Dana is attending therapy and is seeing the benefit of it. When her brother died, her mother Denise was raising her as a single mother. She experienced disenfranchisement as the focus was largely on her mother (and her father when she was with him).

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