Updated: Jun 9
Sibling loss is a devastating experience that can leave a person feeling overwhelmed with tremendous grief. According to the National Alliance for Grieving Children, approximately 6 million children in the United States will experience the death of a sibling before they are 18 years old. And despite its prevalence, there can be an intense feeling of loneliness as they deal with their individual grief—a sense that no one knows exactly what they are going through.
During these moments, remember that you are not alone; Jesus understands what you’re experiencing because he too was acquainted with sorrow. He knows our pain and offers us comfort and hope in our time of need. And through this blog, we hope to provide comfort and solace to those grappling with deep sadness due to the loss of a special brother or sister.
Emotions You May Experience When Grieving a Sibling
The death of a sibling brings with it difficult emotions, and many people who experience this loss struggle to process their feelings. It is crucial to recognize the validity of these feelings and to take steps towards healing. Some of the sentiments you may feel are:
Anger may arise when a person feels like they did not get enough time with their sibling or that there was something more that could have been done for them. Bottled-up anger can be harmful, so it's important to find ways to express our anger in a way that is not destructive to us or others. One way we can do this is by expressing our emotions to God through the act of lament. God is big enough to hold our big emotions and provide us comfort. Psalm 46:10 can provide comfort; “Be still, and know that I am God”. This scripture reminds us of God's sovereignty in all matters and serves as a reminder to humbly surrender our concerns into His hands.
Another common emotion associated with the death of a sibling is guilt. This guilt can come from various sources, such as feelings of responsibility for the death or inability to save the sibling. For example, if a sibling were diagnosed with an illness and passed away due to complications from treatment, a sibling can find themselves struggling with feelings of guilt. In situations like this, please remember that it is not your fault. Release yourself of that burden that does not belong to you, and remember that God provides grace and love during these times and grieves alongside us.
When a sibling passes away, it can be an incredibly overwhelming experience. There is often a deep sense of sadness that comes with the grieving process. This sadness may linger for days, weeks, or even months. It can feel like an unrelenting ache that never fades away. While grieving the loss of a sibling is deeply personal and different for everyone; understanding and accepting that the emotion of sadness is a normal part of the grief process can help to ease the pain. Journaling our thoughts, as well as crying on the shoulder of a supportive friend, can help us when we feel overwhelmed by sorrow.
When someone loses their brother or sister, it can be difficult to adjust to life without them because of the special bond formed by sharing the same family and journey through life together. The loneliness may be felt in everyday moments such as holidays and family gatherings, where there should be a place for the lost loved one, but instead emptiness takes hold. Even though they are no longer present in the body, their memory lives on in our hearts. Remembering our loved ones in group settings, such as a grief support group, can remind us that we are not alone and provide us with the additional support that we need.
Regret is also a frequent emotion associated with the death of a sibling; regret for the things left unsaid or undone. Unfortunately, “if only” will not take away the pain of loss, but will only make it worse. There is no magic wound that allows us to change the past. We have to ask God to help us to accept the past, and release any regrets that we are carrying to Him. Working with a good Christian counselor can help us to process the regrets that we are carrying so we don't get stuck in our grief process.
Additional Ways to Navigate the Rollercoaster of Emotions When Grieving a Sibling
As one of the most painful experiences anyone can face, grieving the loss of a sibling can often take months or even years to fully process and come to terms with. Luckily, based on studies, there are strategies that you can use to navigate the journey ahead. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), some of those ways include;
Recognizing the Validity of Emotions
It’s normal to feel all sorts of emotions after the loss of a sibling, ranging from sadness to anger. As difficult as it may be, try and remember that each emotion you’re feeling is valid and natural. Don’t let anyone tell you how to grieve or insist that your feelings are wrong if they don’t match theirs. Know that it is natural and okay to feel overwhelmed with emotion when remembering your sibling.
Trust in God’s Grace and Redemption
Although our earthly understanding may not make sense of what happened or why, we can look towards a higher power for comfort and solace. It is through faith and prayer that we can find strength, peace, and understanding. God is always with us to help us navigate this painful grief journey.
Isaiah 43:2; “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned”.
Connecting with Supportive Friends and Family
Sharing our feelings with those who understand what we’re going through can be incredibly healing as it helps to lessen the burden of suffering alone. Seek out trusted friends or family members who will listen empathetically without judgment or expectations; they are the ones who will be able to provide you with true comfort and understanding in your journey.
How Can You Honor the Life of Your Sibling
In this season of grief, remember that honoring our loved ones’ lives can be a crucial part of navigating such an emotional journey with faith. It’s a way for us to show our love and respect for them and remind ourselves that they are still part of our lives, even in death. The American Psychological association reports that honoring your loved one can actually help us to cope with the loss of a sibling, and there are many ways to go about this. Here are some meaningful ideas:.
Discovering New Purposes and Passions
The death of a sibling can be an opportunity to discover a new purpose or passion. Whether it’s something they always wanted to do themselves or something completely new for you, dedicating yourself to achieving certain goals will help keep your loved one alive in spirit. Perhaps take up painting if your sibling was an artist, learn a language if they dreamed of visiting Italy, or start a business inspired by their entrepreneurial spirit. By embarking on these new journeys in your life, you are pursuing something positive in the name of your sibling and consequently keeping them alive through meaningful actions.
Encouraging Others to Share Their Own Memories
Encourage friends and family members to share their own memories of your brother or sister. Talking about the good times can help us cope with the loss and bring comfort to those who are grieving. For example, if you struggle to come up with your own thoughts or words, ask other friends or family members what memories they have of your brother or sister. This could be a favorite joke your sibling used to tell, a kind act they did for someone else, or a fun trip they took together as a family. Anything positive that reminds us why we loved them so much.
Having these conversations can bring laughter, comfort, and peace into our hearts, knowing that our beloved family members will always live in our memories no matter how far away they may be.
Creating Meaningful Tributes and Memorials
To show your love and appreciation for your sibling, you could create a meaningful tribute or memorial in their honor. This could be anything from setting up a scholarship fund in their name, starting a charitable initiative that embraces their values, or writing a poem commemorating his/her life. These tributes will help keep your siblings' memory alive while helping others in need as well.
Joining Grief Support Groups and Counseling Sessions
If you find yourself struggling with depression or having difficulty coping with your loss, seeking professional help may be beneficial. You don't have to go through it alone; joining a grief support group or attending counseling sessions can help in the healing process. At Faith on the Journey, we offer Christian-based counseling and grief groups that focus on finding peace through prayer and scripture. Our counselors listen with compassion as you share your story, offering insight and biblical perspectives to give hope during this difficult time. We believe in providing a safe space where you can express yourself without judgment, so you can rest assured knowing that your feelings will be cared for with understanding and kindness.
Visit our website at https://www.faithonthejourney.org/counseling for more information on how you can connect with someone who can support you.
If you are looking for a better understanding of how to cope with the grief that follows a sibling's death, watch our YouTube video, This inspiring and informative video will explore how faith can help you navigate this difficult period in your life. Learn about ways to cope through prayer, support systems, and more. Be empowered to find peace within your own journey of faith by tuning into this incredible resource today!
Terry Mungai is an accomplished administrator and emerging author with a passion for writing in various fields. She graduated from Moi University with a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration and has been working in administrative roles for several years. Terry has two years of writing experience and is enthusiastic about producing engaging content that informs, educates, and entertains readers. She is currently based in Nairobi, Kenya, where she spends her free time exploring new writing projects and perfecting her craft.