Adult Grief After a Traumatic Death

You may feel as though the grief of your sibling’s death expands to every area of your life. If your sibling was married, your family may lose contact with the husband or wife and with the children, if there were any. It’s easy to assume that your brother- or sister-in law will stay close, but sometimes they do not. They may fear that their presence is too painful for your family, or that they are no longer considered part of the family. If you want to stay close with them, be direct about your desires and take the responsibility for staying in touch. Eventually most widows and widowers remarry, which can be extremely painful to the family of the dead husband or wife. Remember, if you can, that no one will replace your brother or sister, and remarrying isn’t an act of disloyalty. A new spouse will probably be very uncertain about his or her relationship with your family and will welcome some clarification from you. If your sibling had children, they are precious reminders of your brother or sister’s life. Discovering traits and physical features in nieces and nephews that are similar to those of your brother or sister are both joyous and painful. Similarly, the special moments in their lives – graduations, marriages, the births of their children – are bittersweet as they will always highlight your sibling’s absence. Children, especially those who were small when their parent was killed, will want to learn about that parent from those who knew him or her. Maintaining a relationship with nieces and nephews is one way bereaved siblings have honored the memory of their brother or sister. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as closure to your grief. As you are already painfully aware, you are a different person from who you were before your sister or brother was killed. Your family has also changed. You may have learned some new things about yourself, even found some unexpected strengths and sensitivities, but you would give them all up to have your

sibling back. Your future is altered because it no longer contains one of the persons with whom you expected to grow up and grow old. Remember that experiencing grief is a journey. Over time and with work, however, you will regain a greater awareness of laughter, happy times, and celebrations of what your sibling’s life meant to you.

Experiencing grief is a journey.

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