• Grief Support for Siblings Banner

Grief Support for Siblings


Grief and Bereavement for Children

Parents are the focus of attention when a child dies, and the grief of siblings is sometimes overlooked. The death of a sibling is a tremendous loss for a child. They lose a family member, a confidant, and a life-long friend. When your child developed cancer, you were likely completely focused on the needs of your sick child. You now may be overwhelmed with your own grief. Your surviving children may misinterpret your grief as a message that they are not as valued as much as the sibling who died.

You can help your children during this time of grief in several ways:

  • Make grief a shared family experience. Include children in discussions about memorial plans.

  • Spend as much time as possible with your children, talking about their sibling or playing together.

  • Make sure children understand that they are not responsible for a sibling’s death, and help them let go of regrets and guilt.

  • Never compare siblings to your child who died. Make sure your child knows that you don't expect them to “fill in” for him or her.

  • Set reasonable limits on their behavior. But try not to be either overprotective or overly permissive. It is normal to feel protective of surviving children.

  • Ask a close family member or friend to spend extra time with siblings if your own grief prevents you from giving them the attention they need.