Losing a Sibling is Unique
Losing a sibling is different from other losses. At times I find myself becoming extremely nostalgic, and it is difficult not having a cohort with whom to share childhood memories.
On some level, we know and expect that our older relatives will leave us eventually. However, our brothers and sisters are the connection between the child we were and the adult we become. They know the good and the not-so-good details about us, and if we are lucky, they love us anyway. They are part of our childhood frame of reference.
Losing them hurts any time, but when this tragedy occurs when we are young, the whole picture changes—not just the frame. As a survivor, I hope to emphasize that we remaining siblings can continue with our lives. Yes, we have lost a big piece of ourselves, but we have memories and connections to fill the holes and keep us intact.
Grief Loves Company
It is a cliché, but I like to think that our siblings would want us to emerge stronger. I love my brothers, and I wanted them to be happy. I have to assume that they would desire that contentment for me as well. And I believe that they would ask me to smile when I hear their names. So I try.
That is the least I can do, and smiling does get easier with time. Then after a while, you know that you are not really alone.
No experience is a cause of success or failure. We do not suffer from the shock of our experiences, so-called trauma – but we make out of them just what suits our purposes. –Alfred Adler
While researching the topic of childhood grief, I came across this quote from the esteemed psychologist Alfred Adler which struck me as relevant. Adler was of the psychoanalytic persuasion and theorized about many topics, including the importance of birth order and sibling relationships in determining personality traits.
We are Not Alone
In discussing the impact of losing a sibling and the emotional trauma it can cause, this sentiment surely can ring true. Over the years I have found that one purpose I seek is to use any insights I have learned to help others treading the same waters. I hope that my experience can, at the very least, assure someone reading that he or she is not alone. Misery may not only love company, but it needs it, too. Let us we travel together along this road of loss, growth, discovery, and recovery.
Vincent van Gogh (a sibling-loss survivor himself) once said, “I put my heart and soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process.” For me, this book is the path to finding my mind. I hope it has this potential for others as well.
This is an excerpt from Turning the Page: Helping a Child Cope with the Loss of a Sibling, by Sue Trace Lawrence.
Read more by Sue on Open to Hope: https://www.opentohope.com/sibling-survivors-need-connection/