Adult Loss of a Sibling

Courtesy of Legacy.com | By Therese Rando, Ph.D.
Siblings by exfordy
Siblings by exfordy

There is no other loss in adult life that appears to be so neglected as the death of a brother or sister. Rarely has it been the subject of investigation or discussion. Nevertheless, this is a loss to which most of us are repeatedly exposed. While we have only one mother, one father, and one spouse (at least at any given point in time), it is not uncommon to have several siblings. Therefore we are more exposed to sibling deaths than to other losses.

Social Expectations

There is a general social expectation that the death of a brother or sister in adulthood will have little or no disruptive effect on us. Yet few adults have no contact with their siblings. This expectation seems to be based on the presumption that child and spouse loss are the most distressing. Usually, if given the opportunity to think about it, people also can understand an adult’s bereavement after a parent’s death. In contrast to this, however, there is a failure to appreciate the significance of brothers and sisters in adult life. While the effects of childhood sibling bereavement have been investigated, there has not been the same degree of interest in adult sibling bereavement.
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