Page 13 - 2017 Autumn-Winter Issue
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didn’t have the words then that I do now, to say that I was         and alone within their own families. We may need reminders
hungry for more than cereal. I had lost my brother…and we           and permission to grieve and to accept our own support.
were at risk of losing so much more…
                                                                    Allow us to grapple with our guilt – the truth is that all
It was then, in the early hours of a Saturday morning, that         sibling relationships are not perfect and even great ones
we came to realize that in our own unique struggles to find a       come with some not-so-hot moments of rivalry or ugly
way to breathe in those early days, we had lost each other. We      words. Grief has a unique quality of playing back newsreels
didn’t lose my brother, he died. But we were at risk of losing      of the worst moments between us and our siblings when we
the support of our little family. This was the spark for us, the    are feeling down. Remind us of memories where we were
start of our commitment to find a way to reach through our          kind to our sibling. Help us put into perspective our normal
differences in our losses to find some common ground.               sibling relationships. It would be weird if every moment we
                                                                    had with them was actually perfect. We may need you to
Our story is not unique. One of the most difficult parts of         help us to remember this.
being a bereaved sibling is the loss of the family we knew.
Our parents are consumed by their own grief and while we            We are surviving siblings. We face many challenges,
certainly understand why, our experience is that none of            sometimes alone. But with support and a lot of grief work,
our supports are the same. Siblings are the people who have         we can emerge from the shadows. We can claim our roles,
known us and our family the longest. Our friends may not            and live the legacies we have chosen of our loved ones with
know how to help, and may shy away. Extended family is              pride (colored with sadness).
primarily concerned with our parents, and the family that
we knew is shattered seemingly beyond repair.                       Am I Still a Sister? You bet I am! And just as my little family
                                                                    learned in the wee hours of a Saturday morning, crying over
How can you help a bereaved sibling?                                breakfast cereal, I hope our TCF family can find that we are
Acknowledge that Sibling loss is devastating − often sibs           all bereaved, we are all hurting, we are many things, BUT
feel we are the “Forgotten Mourners.” We may be asked how           WE ARE NOT ALONE. Together we can become a family
their parents are handling the loss. Many times, we feel that       circle, broken by death, but mended by love.
our loss is not given as much weight by supportive others.
Take the time to ask surviving siblings how we are doing.           Allie Sims Franklin, LICSW is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a grief
                                                                    management specialist, and the big sister of Austin Sims. She is the author
Encourage us to seek and accept emotional support                   of Am I Still A Sister? and a contributing author in Dear Parents and The
for ourselves − sometimes we feel driven to support our             Dying and Bereaved Teenager. She co-authored A Place For Me: A Healing
parents. Many siblings report putting their own grief on            Journey for Grieving Kids, Footsteps Through Grief, The Other Side of
hold to care for parents or out of fear that their grieving         Grief and Finding Your Way Through Grief with her mother, Darcie D.
will make things worse for their grieving parents who “have         Sims. Allie is currently serving as the President of the Board of Directors
enough to deal with.” This can result in siblings feeling isolated  for TCF and is the Executive Director of the non-profit crisis lifeline, Crisis
                                                                    Clinic, in Seattle, WA.

                                  How I Found Hope ...

© Subbotina Anna/  TCF helped me find hope three years after my daughter died due to extreme
                                  prematurity (23 weeks). I thought I was going crazy that I had not “moved
                                  on/gotten over it” until my first chapter meeting. The Compassionate Friends
                                  helped me realize everything I was feeling was valid and I was not alone.  

                                                                                  Julia West, ATC, BCTMB, St. Paul, MN Chapter

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