The impact of a child’s death on their siblings is important to remember and address. Most young children can overcome the trauma of a sibling’s death with the necessary support and time. However, many children have strong feelings of guilt and blame when their sibling dies. Often, the child who has died is idealized after his or her death, leaving feelings of inferiority and neglect for the surviving siblings. These siblings have often been surrounded by death, illness, and great sorrow from all family members, especially parents, during the dying child’s experience.
More often, the young siblings of a child with a terminal illness have been protected from some of the experiences associated with the death. They may not have been allowed to visit the dying child, prevented from participating in the religious or cultural rituals, and possibly, even prevented from attending the funeral. However, all of these experiences may help with closure and can make a sibling’s survivor-guilt less burdensome. Depending on the child’s age and developmental level, children can participate in the death/funeral process of their loved one in ways that can help them with closure.
Driscoll’s Lean on Me bereavement support group, is designed to be a safe place to help children and families explore and embrace feelings surrounding the loss of a loved one. Learn more about Lean on Me here: http://www.driscollchildrens.org/event/lean-on-me-support-group