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The Sibling Connection
Ongoing Connections


            Experts in grief once told us that, in order to resolve grief, we had to give up our connection with the deceased and move on into life.

             For my doctoral research I wanted to explore this idea of a "connection" with a deceased loved one. I decided to compare two groups of bereaved siblings: one group who said they had an ongoing connection with their deceased sibling, and one group who said they did NOT have such a connection. Both groups had to be equal in size. I discovered that it was difficult (like pulling teeth) to find enough people for the second group --those who did NOT have such a connection.

             Although I did finally find enough people for this group, I had the feeling that eventually, after enough healing had taken place, they would "re-connect" with their deceased sibling.

             This discovery led me to question the earlier theories of grief stages, and I now believe that the connection between surviving siblings and deceased siblings is ongoing, and this connection is perceived as a good thing, which does not prevent survivors from moving on into life.

Some of the ways in which bereaved siblings experience a connection with their brother or sister is by

  • thinking about them
  • talking about them--this is usually easiest with other bereaved siblings
  • participating in activities once shared with them
  • taking up the deceased sibling's interests
  • creating memorials--these can be small, such as a donation of flowers to the church on their birthday, making a scrapbook, or large, like naming a building for them, or donating land for a park dedicated to them
  • remembering them during life transitions (graduations, re-locations, weddings, funerals, etc)--this may often trigger an upsurge of grief for the sibling at the age they would have been when the transition occurred.

A Psychic Connection?

             There have been studies of sibling loss, in which the researcher asked the bereaved siblings whether they had experienced any psychic or supernatural phenomena around the time of the death. Bereaved siblings often mention such events. Some of the most common are:

  • Dreams foretelling or warning of the death
  • "Poltergeist" type of events associated with the deceased
  • Hearing the voice of the deceased just before the death
  • Feeling the presence of the deceased at crucial times in the life of the surviving sibling.

             Warning dreams were the most common phenomena that I heard about during my research. Mark Twain's dream of his brother's death is typical of this type. Some dreams of this type are not specific, but warn that the world as known is coming to an end.

            Poltergeist events described by surviving siblings are simple events that have meaning for the bereaved. For example, the survivor comes home from the funeral and the sibling's photograph falls from the wall. A missing piece of jewelry or object belonging to the deceased is found in an unlikely spot.

            Some bereaved siblings hear the voice of their brother or sister calling to them immediately before the death. This is sometimes perceived by the survivor as a farewell or a reaching out at the moment of death.

            Some survivors describe incidents in which they experienced "a presence", like an angel or spirit, which was suddenly near them. This might occur at a time when the survivor was feeling suicidal or in danger. The presence is perceived as helpful and loving.

            Not every surviving sibling experiences such phenomena. But many do, and it is important for them to know they are not alone in feeling connected at this psychic depth.







      For further information, email the Sibling Connection.








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