When you have a sibling you know each other’s hearts. You share a family history filled with jokes and family secrets. Whether your sibling was younger or older, whether the death was sudden or expected, when a sibling dies, you are now grieving.
Everyone experiences grief differently. What we feel internally, and how we express it externally, all depends on the type of loss we’re dealing with. Siblings have shared a life, an upbringing, and a history. The loss you feel might be more profound than you realize. You might feel like you have lost a part of yourself that you can’t get back. You might mourn future events, holidays, and celebrations you’ll never get to have together.
Losing a sibling can feel crippling at times. However, healing and finding ways to move through your grief are possible.
1. Let People Know What You Need
With grief, it can be easier to shut yourself off from the world. People around you want to know how you’re feeling and what they can do to help. If you need space, tell them. And if you find it difficult to express what you’re feeling, tell them that too. People will understand how to respond when you tell them what you need.
2. Remember Your Grief is Valid
The loss of an adult sibling is often overshadowed by the grief of other family members. Often, we think of the bereaved spouse, the parents who mourn a child, your other siblings, or the children who lost a parent. Even if others around you are grieving as well, that doesn’t mean that your grief isn’t also valid. The last thing you want to do is suppress your grief. There is no one right way for you to mourn. Each family member grieves in a different way.
3. Embrace Sentimental Items
Embrace the sentimental items that belonged to, or remind you of, the sibling who died. These can be items such as clothing, photographs, handwritten notes, cards, or gifts received from him or her—all of these connect you to your sibling. Some items may bring joy, some sadness, but the feelings will help you heal. Those items represent shared memories and experiences that can always be cherished.
4. Find Ways to Honor Your Sibling
Think about what was important to your sister or brother and find a way to act on it. For example, you may decide to make a scrapbook with pictures contributed by various family members. Did they have a favorite sports team? Was there a charity they loved to support? You could create a social media page so people can share stories and memories of your siblings. Paying tribute is a therapeutic way to express grief and a way to help their memory stay alive.
5. Practice Self-Care
The death of a loved one is emotionally and physically draining. Often healthy habits tend to go out the door, so find time to nurture yourself. Eat nutritious foods, get adequate rest, participate in favorite activities, and exercise. Feeling extremely sad is a normal reaction but setting aside time to take care of yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically is essential.