Growing up with a sibling can be like growing up with a built-in best friend. You have someone by your side who you can experience life with. They’re someone who you can confide in, they understand you, and they know what it’s like to grow up in your family.
So if you end up losing a sibling to suicide, your whole world may feel like it’s turned upside down. It can feel like the safety and comfort you knew to be true is suddenly gone and not coming back. When you’ve shared a life alongside someone, and that person makes a decision to no longer be a part of that life, it’s understandable for you to want to question things.
Were they not happy with our life? Were they not happy with me? Was our life not as good as I thought it was? Were we not as close as I thought we were?
There are countless questions you could ask and factors to consider depending on the given situation — how old your sibling was when it happened, if they were the older or younger sibling, and if you were close with them or not.
The most important thing to remember is that while navigating loss can be difficult, it is possible for you to put your world right-side up again.
Don’t Shy Away from Feeling the Hard Emotions
Often, siblings can feel like they’re the forgotten mourners because so many other people are grieving around them, especially their parents. When this happens, you may feel pressure to emotionally keep it together and be the strong one for those around you. But all that does is prevent you from grieving yourself.
It’s important to feel everything you’re feeling so that you can process your emotions, even the more complex emotions like shame, blame, guilt, anger, rejection, fear, and numbness. It can be challenging to navigate all of these emotions, but if you can find a healthy outlet to express them or a professional counselor to talk to, the better you’ll feel.
Your Grief is Valid, and You Shouldn’t Suffer Alone
Just because others around you are grieving doesn’t mean that you can’t have space to grieve as well. Your grief is valid, and you shouldn’t feel like a burden to others. Not only that, but you shouldn’t feel the need to take the place of the sibling you’ve lost either. Because you might feel the need to pick up the pieces and step in where you can, but you don’t need to. You have permission to let yourself feel what you’re feeling and not have it all together for everyone else.
The death of a sibling is a huge loss, and it’s something that you shouldn’t have to navigate alone. Let others know how you’re feeling and find ways to take care of yourself during your grief. Remember to eat well, move your body, and journal.
You Can Have a Good Life Even Without Them Here
Depending on how close you were with your sibling, you might feel like you can’t enjoy life anymore now that they’re not here, but that’s not the case.
You can find ways to remember them and honor their memory. You can be kind to yourself and remind yourself that they most likely wanted you to be happy.
After their loss, it might feel like you can no longer find security and safety in other relationships, but this feeling doesn’t have to last forever. Instead of fearing for the worst, you can allow yourself to hope for the best after some time.
And talking through all of your feelings in grief counseling can help you find even more tangible ways to move forward with your life and find joy again.
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