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

Emotional Support--What is it? Why do you need it?

           When I started my education as a counselor, I was surprised to learn that emotions have a hierarchy. The feeling of love is at the bottom, the base of all our emotions. Anger can separate us from love, and so can anxiety and guilt. The goal of expressing your feelings is to let the next feeling surface so you can get back to the love.

          When you talk to a counselor, and express anger, for example, about the death of your sibling, the counselor is not going to tell you "You shouldn't feel that way!" That would not be supportive. Instead, the counselor will probably listen attentively, and validate your emotion. Your feeling of anger is supported by being heard, accepted, and then validated. The anger weakens and the feelings underneath it begins to surface.

          The next feeling might be guilt and you talk about a fight you had with your sibling recently. Then fear surfaces as you talk about being afraid that you will die of the same disease. When you get to the love, even though you feel sad, you feel connected, because you are sharing this with a supportive listener. Love is an emotion that connects--the connection you feel to the listener helps to overcome the loneliness and sense of loss caused by the death.

           Emotional support feels good. It allows for the normal flow of feelings and brings the grieving student back to a place where they can feel comforted.








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