Welcome to the Loss of Sibling/Friend Community
Some of the most precious relationships we have are those we grew up with, or shared meaningful experiences with over a substantial amount of time. Siblings and friends usually have deep connections, and their common experiences may be both positive and negative. Losing someone who knows a lot about you, accepts you without judgment, and loves you without condition is a significant loss of intimacy in your life. As with any relationship, the quality of the bond affects the intensity and character of the grief.
Common Reactions to the Loss of a Sibling or Friend
The Forgotten Mourner
Alan Wolfelt, author, grief counselor, and founder of the Center for Loss and Life Transition describes the adult who loses a sibling or friend as the “forgotten mourner”. Traditionally when a loss occurs, those getting the most attention are parents, children, and partners. The adult sibling or friend often suffers silently. Feelings of being disenfranchised are common when a loss is felt deeply but not recognized by others. It is important to recognize your loss even if society does not.
Loss of Identity
From our earliest memories we identify ourselves in the world as “the brother of…, the sister of…, or the best friend of…”. Stories of our youth are replete with those with whom we hung out or identified strongly. So much of who we are is caught up in those we spent the most time with during our formative years. That is why losing a sibling, or a close friend can be so challenging for us. When we lose a sibling or a close friend, we lose a part of ourselves.
Loss of Innocence
Many siblings and friends grew up together at a mostly carefree, simpler time in their life. While in our younger years we are not necessarily protected from loss or pain, we tend to experience less profound grief and loss than we do as adults. Getting older may be known for drooping and wrinkled skin, sore muscles and arthritis, or failing vision and hearing, but the real story is aging seems to come with an increasing number of losses due to the death of family and close friends. The innocence of youth is obscured by the harsh reality of grieving losses. In our grief we yearn for that simpler and more innocent time.
Loss of Connection
When you can be separated from someone for months or years at a time, be reconnected and instantly pick back up where you left off, finish each other’s sentences, and know what the other is thinking, you have something rare. You have a relationship many have with their siblings and close friends. To lose that relationship leaves a huge hole in your soul. This loss can feel as if you have lost an arm or a leg. This person has been one you would always turn to when you felt alone or disconnected, and the thought of never being able to hear their voice or see the smile on their face is profoundly painful.
Competing Thoughts and Emotions
When you spend decades of your life with a person you cannot help but have both positive and negative stories and memories of your time together. Siblings and friends can have been inseparable growing up, but then estranged because of a falling out or disagreement and go years without speaking to each other. Conflicting thoughts and emotions will easily compete after the death of this loved one. We can experience intense feelings of love in our grief, and at the same time a profound confusion because we also feel anger, frustration, and potentially resentment at the same time.
Helpful Resources for the Loss of a Sibling or Friend
We Grieve Workshops
Grief Workshops are open to all loss communities and are offered on a variety of topics.
Grief Workshops utilize a virtual platform and include teaching and small group, loss-specific breakouts with discussion enabled by a trained community facilitator. Workshops are scheduled for 90-minute sessions meeting weekly for four consecutive weeks.
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