HOME
INTRODUCTION
SERIES
LOSS OF SIBLING
» AS A CHILD
» AS AN ADOLESCENT
» AS A COLLEGE STUDENT
» AS AN ADULT
LEARN ABOUT GRIEF
» FROM MOVIES
» FROM CULTURES
» FROM PSYCHOLOGY
ARTICLES
» Bibliotherapy for Bereaved Siblings
» Surviving Siblings and the Four Basic Emotions
» HEALING
» LONG-TERM EFFECTS
» GRIEF INFLUENCES
» ONGOING CONNECTIONS
» ANNIVERSARY REACTIONS
» CREATIVITY
» LOSS AND MARRIAGE
» REACTIONS IN THE FAMILY
RESOURCES
» BOOKLIST and FILMS
» SUPPORT
» FAQs
» BIBLIOGRAPHY
» YOUR STORIES
» WHAT'S NEW
» ABOUT
» EMAIL

The Sibling Connection

Factors that influence sibling grief

by P.G. White, Ph.D.


The Lost Relationship

      The particular brother/sister, sister/sister, or brother/brother relationship impacts the intensity of grief. In some studies of sibling loss, the participants are divided into groups based on their age and gender and the deceased sibling's age and gender. When you lose a sibling, you fit into one of the following relationship categories:

  • Survivor-older sister, Deceased-younger sister
  • Survivor-older sister, Deceased-younger brother
  • Survivor-older brother, Deceased-younger sister
  • Survivor-older brother, Deceased-younger brother
  • Survivor-younger sister, Deceased-older sister
  • Survivor-younger sister, Deceased-older brother
  • Survivor-younger brother, Deceased-older sister
  • Survivor-younger brother, Deceased-older brother
  • Survivor-twin, Deceased-twin

      This emphasis on the particular relationship highlights a factor often overlooked, because it seems so obvious. You lose not only your brother or sister, but your relationship with that person. Each of the relationship categories listed here has its own particular characteristics and took place within a particular environment. For example, a girl (whose father was emotionally distant or physically absent) who loses an older brother, may be losing the only "father" figure she has known. An older sister who loses a young brother may feel as if she is losing her own child. For adults, whose parents are already deceased, the loss of a particular relationship with a sibling may feel like the loss of all they had left of their parents.

Factors associated with the bereaved sibling*

  • Meaning of the lost relationship
  • Meaning of the death
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Roles within the family
  • Other stressful events happening at the time
  • Personality
  • Unique qualities of the relationship with the deceased. Siblings who sleep in the same bed, play together, have the same friends, and spend most of their leisure time together share a great deal of what is called "life space". This will make their grief process more difficult than it is for another sibling who shared little time with the deceased.
  • Perception of the deceased sibling's fulfillment in life
  • Past experience with loss
  • Unfinished business
  • Secondary losses
  • Coping behaviors
  • Mental health
  • Intelligence
  • Level of maturity
  • Social, Cultural, Ethnic, and Religious Background
  • Amount of support available
  • Work status
  • Education
  • Events surrounding the funeral and the funeral itself
  • Medication and drug use
  • General nutrition
  • Physical health


Factors associated with the death*

  • Cause of death
  • Timeliness
  • Circumstances surrounding the death
  • Preventability
  • Whether it was anticipated or sudden
  • Length of illness before death


*based on work of Therese Rando

For further information, email the Sibling Connection

HOME |  INTRODUCTION |  Loss of Sibling As a Child |  As Adolescent |  As Adult    Grief Stages |  Cultures |  Psychology |  Healing |  Effects |  Connections |  Anniversary |  Creativity |  FAQs |  SupportLinks |  Bibliography |  Your Stories |  What's New |  About


Copyright © 2000-2011 P.G.White, Ph.D.