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The Sibling Connection
Experiencing the Death of a Sibling as a College Student
LONELINESS

          Have you ever seen an aspen tree? They look like any other tree from above ground, but underneath they are connected to each other by their roots. Humans, too, have connections to other people that cannot be seen, but sometimes they lose sight of that fact. When humans fear the connections they have to other humans, we call it loneliness.

          We lose our sense of connectedness by anything that makes us look different from others, if that characteristic bothers us: racial characteristics, different clothes, weight, height, and the way we walk. The fear of being unacceptable separates us from the feeling of connection. But invisible characteristics also create loneliness: like having experienced the death of a sibling. No one can see it, but you still feel different. Of all the long term effects described in research on bereaved siblings, the most common is a sense of being different from others. .

                  There is nearly always some loneliness associated with grief. Each relationship is entirely unique. Each person within the family will have lost a different relationship, even though it was the same person who died. Therefore, no one else can possibly know exactly what your grief is about and what you lost. Sometimes bereaved siblings search and search for someone who understands, but the sad fact is that no one can completely understand. During a period of grief we truly learn the meaning of being alone.

          Humans thrive most when surrounded by a community of supportive people among whom they can grow and develop. But even in such a setting, we can still be lonely if we are wearing a mask, pretending to be someone we are not, or pretending to be happy when we are torn up inside. Masks also keep out the good feelings that come our way from others.

           Loneliness is such a common phenomenon on college campuses that many schools have addressed the issue with programs, support groups, and group counseling. The links page points to several wonderful articles about loneliness from various colleges, including action plans for living with and dealing with this painful emotion.








For further information, email the Sibling Connection.


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