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.

Alan Pedersen

Alan Pedersen has been performing for more than 25 years. An accomplished singer and award winning songwriter, he spent several years writing and recording music in Nashville, Tennessee. Alan has had several songs recorded by other artists. His writing has not been limited to music, he has written commercials, radio news copy, and collaborations for television shows and other comedy projects. His performing credits are numerous as well. Alan has worked as an actor, stand-up comedian, keynote speaker/emcee, and in radio as a network news and sports reporter for Westwood One Communications. Currently living in Englewood, Colorado, Alan is the father of four boys and an angel. In August of 2001 Alan’s life took a tragic turn, his 18-year-old and only daughter Ashley was killed in an automobile accident. This tragedy would take his life in a direction he never imagined. Struggling for months to find answers and trying to cope with tremendous pain and anger, he entered a grief program in Denver, Colorado and began attending monthly meetings of a support organization (The Compassionate Friends.) Alan credits these organizations with saving his life and inspiring him to honor his daughter’s life by helping others. In July of 2003, Alan released a CD of songs he had written about his walk through the valley of grief, titled Ashley’s Songbook. In 2006, he released a follow up CD titled “A Little Farther Down The Road.” Alan now helps others by sharing his story of faith and hope. His message is simple; grief and loss offer the opportunity for ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things. He believes that healing begins when we once again give of ourselves by helping others. Alan speaks and plays his music for churches and grief organizations around the country. In 2008 Alan will release his third CD of original music about the journey bereaved families must walk. Alan has performed at National Conferences for The Compassionate Friends, Bereaved Parents of the USA, and the World Gathering on Bereavement. Alan will travel and speak 120 times in 2008 for local chapters of TCF, BP-USA, and other grief organizations dedicated to helping families grieving the loss of a child. In February of 2008 Alan released his third CD “More Songs From the Journey” which features “Celebrate the Children” which is the anthem of his concerts and events this year. To learn more about Alan and to get his tour schedule, go to: www.everashleymusic.com. Alan appeared on the radio show Healing the Grieving Heart to discuss “Learning to Live Again After Loss.” To hear his interview with Dr. Gloria and Dr. Heidi Horsley, click on the following link: www.voiceamericapd.com/health/010157/horsley033006.mp3 Alan appeared a second time on the radio show Healing the Grieving Heart to discuss, “The Holidays, Helpful or Hurtful?” to hear his interview with Dr. Gloria and Dr. Heidi Horsley, click on the following link: www.voiceamericapd.com/health/010157/horsley122508.mp3

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