Siblings hold a unique place in our lives. Their death can be hard to process.

Reactions to losing a sibling 

  • Confusion

Our siblings often share our family history and formative years. Their death can make you feel unsure about your place in the world.

  • Loss of youth

The death of a brother or sister can affect your relationship to the past. It can make you feel like you’re no longer young, and make your childhood seem further and further away. For children and teenagers, the death of a sibling may also mean taking on more adult responsibilities such as caring for parents or younger siblings.

  • Shock

The death of a sibling can be very hard to process. We’re often told that our brothers and sisters will still be there when our parents are no longer with us. To have this taken away can be deeply unsettling.

  • My grief doesn’t matter

When someone dies, it is common for people to focus their support on the parents, partner or children of the person who died. Siblings, whether as adults or children, can sometimes be left out and made to feel like their grief doesn’t matter. This feeling is called ‘disenfranchised grief’ by professionals.

  • Change in responsibilities

You may now be taking on more caring responsibilities for elderly parents or children. If you have been left as an only child you will have no-one to share this burden with. This can be very stressful.

  • Regret

It’s normal to feel regret after someone dies, particularly if you had a strained relationship with your sibling. You might regret the things you said to them while they were alive, or regret not spending enough time with them. Writing a letter to the person who died is a really helpful way to manage regret. Find out more.

Learn more about different feelings after a person dies. 

Supporting yourself 

  • Talk to someone

Talking can really help. Talking to friends and family is really important. We’re also here to help you make sense of how you’re feeling. Read about how Cruse can support you. 

  • Find ways to remember them

It can help to think of ways you can remember your sibling, and keep them as part of your life. This might mean keeping a few special possessions, creating a memory box or special album of pictures, or organising a time for family and friends to come together and remember. Find more ways to remember someone who’s died. 

  • Plan ahead on anniversaries 

Birthdays, anniversaries and other celebrations are difficult after someone close to us dies. It helps to plan how you are going to spend the day. Read our tips on coping with birthdays.

  • Journaling and writing

Writing letters to the person is really helpful. Putting things down in words allows you to clarify your thoughts and maintain a bond with the person who’s died.

Talk to us

We’re here to support you while you’re grieving. Find out the ways we can help.