your sibling died recently or long ago, you may find that you still
have significant emotional energy around specific issues. This page
describes the four basic emotions and what often triggers these
emotions for bereaved
four emotions are actually families of emotions, often referred to
as "Mad, Sad, Glad, and Bad (Guilt and Anxiety)." Click on each of
the four emotions to see other feelings that are in that particular
can use the information on this page to help you work through your
own experience. Compare and contrast what is here with your own
personal experience. You can add to the list by emailing me.
are bereaved siblings still mad--days, months, or even years after
the death of their brother or sister? Here are some of the
- The loss of their brother or sister was not acknowledged by
parents or other relatives, or friends.
- The manner in which they got the news of the death did not
- Others expected the surviving sibling to take care of the
parents or to make up for the loss.
- How they were treated immediately after hearing the news. Some
were ignored, some were sent to stay with a relative, some were
not given any information....
- Because of the way that they, or another sibling, was treated
in the months and years after the loss. For example, some were
blamed for not being the one who died, some were targeted as a
scapegoat for the parent's anger.
- Their peers had no awareness of the reality of life and death,
so they felt as if they were now different from them.
- Because life went on as normal.
- They were not allowed to grieve or were encouraged to feel
guilty for grieving.
- No one talked about the death and the dead sibling was never
- They didn't get to see the body.
- The sibling's spouse doesn't seem upset.
- They don't agree with some aspect of the funeral, burial site,
- They don't feel the sibling got the appropriate care while in
- They saw the body in a broken and wounded state, after a car
accident, for example.
- They were not allowed or encouraged to go to or participate in
- They didn't know how to deal with their feelings.
- They weren't informed about the severity of their sibing's
- Someone else survived who was involved in the accident that
killed their sibling.
- They had to babysit, clean house, or be responsible for other
chores while parents were at the hospital, sheriff's office,
funeral home, etc.
- No one ever asked how they were feeling. They often heard "How
are your parents?"
- They had to grow up overnight.
- They were blamed for acting out and trying to get attention,
when they were too young to understand what was really
- They were over-protected after the loss.
- They were expected to "become" the dead sibling.
- They didn't get a chance to say good-bye.
- The dead sibling's belongings were given away or disposed of
without their consent.
siblings still feel sorrow and sadness from the many losses
associated with the death of a brother or sister.
- The loss of companionship and a future with their sibling.
- Loss, at least for a time, of the parents while they were
- Loss of parts of the self that were projected onto the
- Loss of innocence.
- Missing out on peer related activities.
- Feeling left out.
- Not getting the attention they needed to deal with such a
- Being lonely.
- There is a hole when they visit their other sibings, because
it is then obvious that one is missing. The presence of other
family members reminds them forcibly of this fact.
- Sorry that they can't go back and make up for something they
did or said.
bereaved siblings emerge from the experience glad about a number of
issues. Not every bereaved sibling has the same experience, but here
are some of the reasons...
- They are able to be with others who are grieving, and
- They appreciate life and relationships.
- They have a deeper spiritual life.
- They still feel connected to the deceased sibling.
- Life is more real to them.
- Some say they no longer fear death.
- They have the sense of being guarded by an angel.
- When troubled in other relationships, they feel that their
deceased sibling is always on their side.
- When they engage in activities once shared with their sibling,
they feel the presence of that sibling.
- Fear of doctors and hospitals.
- Fear of doing whatever the sibling was doing that led to the
death--swimming, driving, horseback riding.
- Fear of their own children's death.
- Watchfulness for symptoms related to the sibling's
- Belief that life will never be the same again.
- Having the sense that they will not live long.
- Anxiety about their parents' death.
- Guilt about fights with the deceased sibling.
- Guilt about how they acted at the time of the illness, for
example, going out with friends instead of staying with their
- Thinking they should have prevented the death, or that they
caused the death, for example by giving their sibling a
- Guilt about going on with life, surviving at all, or for being
- A fear that something else terrible is going to happen, not trusting life.
- Thinking they should be perfect and never complain.
- Guilt about a number of things they did or didn't do prior to