Archive for October 2020

A Missing Void: Grieving the Loss of a Sibling

Posted on Oct 20, 2020

The death of a sibling can leave one feeling incomplete.

Some have said that when a parent or grandparent dies, it can feel like the death of one’s past and that when a child dies, it can feel like the death of a hopeful future. When one’s sibling dies, however, it can feel like the death of both the past and the future. In this piece, we’ll discuss some common emotions felt by those who have lost a sibling and how to navigate the grieving process to begin healing. 

How Siblings Shape Identity

Though one may say they have their father’s ears or their mother’s nose, siblings shape each other’s personalities in significant ways. When a sibling dies, this can have a profound impact not only on someone’s emotions but also their identity. The death of a sibling can leave someone feeling like they have a hole left in them in the shape of the departed sibling and feel like part of their own identity is gone as well. 

Existential Confusion

Anytime someone of someone else’s similar age passes, this can cause one to take an inquisitive look at their own life. When a sibling dies, in addition to potentially altering someone’s identity, it can lead them into an introspective phase that, when combined with the grieving process, can feel quite confusing.

Feeling Forgotten

The death of a sibling earlier in life also typically means that there are parents who have lost a child as well. In some instances, a sibling can feel like their parents are the primary recipients of pity and support due to their unique grief status. This can cause sibling grievers to feel forgotten or excluded—as though their grief is not significant and, thus, not in need of as much attention. 

The New Identity

Following the death of a sibling and one’s identity feels forever altered, it is important to understand that such a bleak forecast is not necessarily the case. The departed sibling has shaped their brother or sister’s life in ways that will forever remain. This attitude of carefully protecting that aspect of one’s personality can provide relief from both grief and existential angst on particularly rough days, weeks, months, or even years. 

That Part is Still Missing, But Time Reduces Pain

When a sibling passes, many report that there is a brother/sister-shaped void within them that remains unfilled by new experiences or support from that sibling. What is also reported, however, is that the pain of that void grows less and less severe with time. Where it was once filled with their input and support, over the years, it is filled with memories, which with time also become a treasure rather than a source of pain. 

Hospice & Palliative Care in Tulsa, OK

For the highest quality hospice and palliative care services, Cura HPC Hospice & Palliative Care is proud to serve the families of Tulsa, OK. Learn more about Cura HPC today.

Grieving the Loss of a Child: Common Emotions & Paths to Healing

Posted on Oct 20, 2020

support group meeting

Though less common, parents who have lost children are never alone. 

The death of a child is among the most severe forms of grief one can experience. While grieving the loss of an adult in one’s life is difficult (a sibling, spouse, parent, grandparent, etc.), the child-to-parent relationship can make such a loss especially devastating. There are many unique emotions and stages to grieving the loss of a child. It can be helpful to understand these emotions so that they can be processed in a healthy way. 

Some Common Emotions

The Feeling of Failure

Despite the cause of death, many parents will feel a tremendous sense of guilt or failure to protect their child from harm. Though accidental deaths are most likely to result in the feeling of failure, even terminal illness can make parents feel like they have failed to do enough to keep their children healthy. These emotions stem from the innate sense of duty that devoted parents feel to safeguard their children from all threats. 

Anger or Injustice

Between instances of grief, anger may trail close behind. Despite a parent’s spiritual outlook or worldview, many can’t help but experience a sense that an injustice has occurred—that their child has not only died but has been taken from them, a fate that this child did nothing to deserve. This anger may be projected towards a societal structure, a divine being, or even themselves. Though this emotion can overtake a person, it can potentially be helpfully redirected towards growth—perhaps towards a good cause or communal initiative. 

Anxiety About the Future

Some people who have never experienced anxiety before—a dread of the future—will suddenly develop such sensations following the death of a child, especially if such a passing occurred suddenly. This anxiety may be in regard to how they will feel in the future or how others will treat them. Some parents may grow withdrawn so as not to have to face either the pity or the judgment of other people. 

Helpful Grief & Recovery Methods

Gracious Reflection

A form of emotional salve for many grieving parents is cultivating a sense of gratitude for the time they spent with their children. Reflecting on positive and tender moments instead of the tragedy of their passing can help in transforming their memory into a blessing. Meditating on the positive impact the child had on the parents’ lives can help transform pain into gratitude.

Remembering to Care For One’s Self

Grief can consume one’s focus on their own personal maintenance. Getting back into the swing of taking care of one’s family and one’s self can help provide much-needed momentum in the face of negative emotions. This shouldn’t be thought of so much as a distraction from grief, but rather a means of processing grief through action.

Communicating & Processing Grief With Others

While most will experience the death of a parent, grandparent, or even spouse, not everyone will lose a child. The perceived abnormality of the situation can make someone feel isolated—that no one understands what they’re experiencing or that worse, that others will judge them. Thankfully, most every town or city has a variety of specialized support groups for grieving parents. In these groups, grieving parents can meet and speak with other grieving parents to share their emotions and build a sense of community around shared loss. Many parents who have lost a child report that the decision to join a support group was, in fact, a game-changer on their road to healing. 

Not Feeling the Need to Stick to a Timeline

Though there are average durations for the many stages of grief, none of these are exact or recommended to follow for the proper processing of grief. A grieving parent should not feel anxiety over their own inability to “move on” as quickly as others may have. Everyone is different and some people simply need more time. It is important, however, to believe what many grieving parents have reported—that the pain grows less severe over time and that the blessing of the child’s memory overshadows the tragedy of their passing. 

Hospice & Palliative Care in Tulsa, OK

For the highest quality hospice and palliative care services, Cura HPC Hospice & Palliative Care is proud to serve the families of Tulsa, OK. Learn more about Cura HPC today.