How to Find Healing After an Adult Sibling Dies

Everyone experiences grief differently. What we feel internally and how we express it externally all depends on the type of loss we’re dealing with.

When it comes to the death of an adult sibling, grief and healing can come in all shapes and sizes. Sibling relationships can be complex, and when someone you have a shared history with dies, it can be hard to grapple with your feelings.

Because you’ve shared a life, an upbringing, and a history with this person, the loss you feel might be more profound than you realize. You might feel like you’ve lost a part of yourself that you can’t get back. You might mourn the future events, holidays, and celebrations you’ll never get to have together. You might experience anxiety over your mortality because it’s hard to fathom that they’re even gone. Whether your relationship with them was close or not, it was still a relationship.

Maybe they’re the person you trusted with secrets when you were younger. Maybe they were your biggest competitor and rival. Maybe they were your best friend.

So while losing them can feel overwhelming and even crippling at times, it is still possible to heal and find a way to move through your grief.

Let People Know What You Need

When grief sets in, it can be easier to shut yourself off from the world than open yourself up to those around you. But, the truth is, people, want to know how you’re feeling and what they can do to help. So if you need space, tell them that. And if you don’t know how to express what you’re feeling, tell them that too. People will understand how to respond when you tell them what you need.

And if you’re finding it difficult to communicate what you’re feeling, counseling and support groups can help you find the words to express how you’re feeling.

Find Ways to Honor Their Memory

It can seem like the smallest of gestures, but if you can find ways to honor your sibling, it’s also a way to help their memory stay alive. Was there a charity they loved to support? Did they have a favorite sports team? This is an opportunity for you to celebrate their life and what mattered most to them.

Remember All of the Good Times

Even though you can’t plan for a future with your sibling, you can hold onto your past together. Grief isn’t something that you move past; it’s something that you learn how to move through. So if you want to hold onto sentimental items that meant something to the both of you, do that. Those items represent shared memories and experiences that no one can take away.

And while it’s great to invoke nostalgia from time to time because it’s comforting, know that it’s also okay to continue living and moving forward with your life.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

Losing someone you love is hard enough without beating yourself up about it.

We may wish that we could have said or done things differently, but time is something we can’t get back, unfortunately. And when an unexpected death happens, it can hit us harder than we expect.

You may start to wonder if there was more you could have done, or you might even be experiencing survivor’s guilt wondering why you survived and they didn’t. When your mind starts to wander like this, it can help if you put what you’re feeling into words by writing in a journal.

Take Care of Your Health and Well-being

Just as much as you’re emotionally grieving, you’re also physically grieving. So set aside time to take care of yourself just as you may be taking care of those around you. Take care of yourself — mentally, emotionally, and physically. That means that you want to get the right amount of sleep and keep up with diet and exercise.

Remember that Your Grief is Valid

The last thing you want to do is suppress your grief. That doesn’t help anyone, especially you. And even if others around you are grieving as well — your parents, your other siblings, your sibling’s spouse and children — it doesn’t mean that your grief isn’t also valid. Everyone experiences grief and processes it differently.

Losing an adult sibling is just as difficult as any other kind of loss. This could even be a chance for your family to come together to mourn the shared loss.

However you grieve, the most important part is finding the right tools and techniques to process what you’re feeling. And grief counseling can help with that.

Photo credit: @alyssasieb,