Being a Caregiver for Your Sibling

Life happens unexpectedly, and sometimes we’re presented with situations that are out of our control. When you become the primary caregiver for your sibling, everything changes, including your relationship.

Caring for your sibling may be a situation that was thrust upon you or something that you’ve been managing for quite some time. And just like every sibling relationship is unique, so is every caregiving relationship, especially when you’re caring for someone so close to you.

Caregiving Isn’t Always A Choice

Depending on your situation, you may have chosen to become a caregiver, or it was a decision that was made for you. Either way, you’ve taken on a significant responsibility to be there for your sibling. If you were both close growing up, then it might be challenging to see them in a weakened state and depending on you more than ever before. And if you weren’t so close and caregiving became something you needed to do, you might feel a loss of personal freedom, which is okay to feel.

Caring for someone you love, especially a sibling, can bring up emotions you weren’t expecting. For instance, if your sibling was in a devastating accident, you might feel a sense of grief and anticipatory loss, not knowing for sure if they’ll pull through. The same might be true if they’ve been diagnosed with a fatal illness or disease. And then you might be in a situation where you’ve been taking care of them for as long as you can remember because of a chronic illness or disability they have.

Each situation is unique and can bring out different feelings. You might feel stressed, anxious, and don’t want to see them suffer anymore. All of the complex and hard-to-express emotions you’re feeling are normal and to be expected.

Caring for a Younger or Older Sibling

If you’re the oldest in your family, you might feel a natural responsibility to take care of and protect those around you. So if you’re taking care of a younger sibling, it might feel impossible at times because you can’t take away their pain. And if it’s an older sibling that you’re taking care of, you might still feel this helpless feeling, not knowing what you can do to help the situation or alleviate their pain.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting your sibling to get better and to be a part of their healing process, but the reality of some situations is that there may not be much you can do. And it’s important to not put so much pressure on yourself to be their everything.

Set Aside Time for You

When you’re taking care of someone else, you need to prioritize taking care of yourself. It’s not something to be put on the back burner because you could risk experiencing burnout. Taking care of another human being, especially someone so close to you can weigh on you. So do what you can to alleviate some of the stress you’re feeling. See friends, make time for your hobbies, and do things that you love.

And in those moments when it becomes too much to handle, reach out for support. Schedule a call with a professional counselor who understands and can help you work through what you’re going through.

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