A special hour-long webinar from the Open to Hope foundation, the Death of a Sibling, features Alicia “Allie” Sims Franklin, LICSW and the big sister of Austin along with Tracy Milne, the big sister of Andrew. Both women lost a sibling and understand there’s a unique kind of lifelong loss that occurs in these situations. Dr. Heidi Horsley of the Open to Hope foundation and the President of The Compassionate Friends Alan Pedersen lead the discussion. Milne is also a member of The Compassionate Friends, serving as the Sibling Representative. Today, Franklin works as a grief counseling specialist, bringing her own personal experience to the table.
Franklin penned the book “Am I Still a Sibling?” after designing an award-winning self-help program for bereaved children. She began her speaking career at age 13, and leads workshops around the country. Milne was 15 when she lost her brother in a skateboarding accident, and today is serving her second term with The Compassionate Friends National Board of Directors. “One of the big pieces about having a sibling die is asking yourself, ‘Who am I now?’” How do you answer the simple question of how many brothers and sisters you have?
“I am still a sister”
For Milne, “I didn’t know what to do because I no longer had a sibling…it was a great foundation for Allie and I to connect on.” The two met several years ago, and re-defined who they were and their relationship with their brothers in a parallel structure. Franklin was four when her brother died, and recalls that young children in particular “have different understandings about death through different ages.” At a young age, the permanence of death isn’t fully understood.
Surviving siblings can often be forgotten in the mix, especially throughout the years. However, they share similar concerns. It’s important to “deal with leftover baggage” and understand that healing may never be complete. Children in particular face a fear that something else bad will happen, or that they’ll die themselves. They may not articulate this to family members, but it’s critical for everyone in mourning to practice safe ways to heal. Watch the entire webinar for advice, tips and recommendations.