Grieving siblings often feel misunderstood or invalidated in their sibling loss. The Broken Pack™ exists to change that. ~Angela M. Dean, PsyD, FT
Sibling loss resources were few and far between when my brother died. I have learned sibling loss is very misunderstood and that little support exists. I started The Broken Pack™ to change that and to support other sibling loss survivors. ~Angela M. Dean, PsyD, FT
“Siblings will take different paths and life may separate them, but they will forever be bonded by having begun their journey in the same boat.”
About The Broken Pack™, a sibling loss organization
The Broken Pack™ is an organization supporting adult sibling loss survivors by building a community and providing education so that no sibling loss is overlooked.
Adult sibling loss survivors are commonly referred to in psychosocial literature as “disenfranchised mourners.” What does that even mean?
According to Dr. Ken Doka, the originator of the concept, disenfranchised grief is grief that isn’t recognized, not able to be mourned publicly, or supported socially. Disenfranchised grievers are those who do not have the perceived right to grieve. Disenfranchisement of grief is not that is is just forgotten, merely unnoticed, or hidden in some way. Learn more about disenfranchised loss here.
All too commonly, adults who lose a sibling to death are not supported socially. In many cases, others believe siblings do not grieve or have the right to grieve.
Many believe that a sibling’s grief is inferior to that of surviving parents, romantic partners, or children.
Quite frequently, adult siblings receive messages to “take care of” these other individuals, which of course they often wish to (although not in all cases) do. For days and years to follow the death of their sibling, surviving siblings frequently report that they are asked about their parents or the children, and often not asked about themselves. They report feeling unseen or unacknowledged in their own mourning and longer term grief processes. If you are reading this, you likely already understand this phenomenon all too well. You have lost your sibling. Your past memories and your future are largely lost, too, with few who understand.
What prompted the formation of The Broken Pack™?
On February 22, 2020, the founder, Dr. Angela Dean, received unbearable news of her brother’s unexpected death. She collapsed where she was standing. She rushed to be with her parents. In the days and weeks to follow, especially as the pandemic unfurled and mourning and grieving occurred in isolation, Angela felt more lost. She turned to books, scholarly articles, online resources, her training as a psychologist*, her colleagues, and her own therapist. However, few resources or supports felt sufficient. As she gathered information from others who had suffered sibling loss before her, Angela realized that her experience was not unique and yet, she felt alone. Despite well-meaning loved ones, Angela learned first-hand what it meant to be a disenfranchised mourner.
In her grieving journey and in talking to many people like you – and like her- that had a sibling loss, Angela felt driven to do more. In time, she felt compelled and passionate to develop The Broken Pack™ with a vision to support others who have lost and who will lose a sibling to death.
So, why is it called The Broken Pack™?
A core belief of Angela’s and of The Broken Pack™ is that all of our stories are different and our needs may widely vary. Despite these differences, she also wanted to honor her brother in this work. Her brother very much loved wolves. He drew them from a young age and collected figurines, artwork, and all information related to wolves.
Wolves are inherently social animals and remain in packs with only one breeding pair, the parents- if you will. The remainder of the wolves are usually siblings who have been observed to play well into old age and protect one another with fierce loyalty.
Angela learned that wolves grieve dead pack mates, most often siblings, for weeks to months and sometimes longer. Their howls change from lively howls and yips as a group to solo, mournful cries with a tone suggestive of waiting for a call back from the lost wolf. They play less. They walk with heads and tails low. In some instances, the wolves have been observed also to wander around aimlessly looking for their lost pack mate or to revist the site of death if it is known. While their behaviors may return to normal, their close bond and ability to play with or have some intergenerational experiences are lost.
They may adapt and incorporate the loss into their narrative getting “back to life as normal,” but the pack structure has changed.
In other words, the pack of wolves as it was meant to be is broken.
Thus, Angela felt that to name this organization The Broken Pack™ not only honored her brother and his love of wolves but also spoke of the forever change in family structures after an adult sibling dies.
Ok, but what does The Broken Pack™ do?
We are growing our offerings to meet the needs of other sibling loss survivors. We currently have a podcast, a newsletter, an active instagram account, and are developing some really exciting offerings coming out soon! To stay apprised of those be sure to sign up for Wild Grief, the newsletter.
The Broken Pack™ ‘s long term vision is to provide support to individuals and groups, connect and create a community of survivors worldwide, and train mental health professionals plus a whole lot more through a variety of resources, media, and platforms.
As we grow and are in the process of making sure it offers what you need. We need your help. So, please share with us how we can help. Share what you are looking for in terms of support, your story of loss, what has helped you, and what has not by clicking below and then stay tuned for exciting updates! Thank you! You can also email Dr. Dean at email@example.com.
*Please note that while the founder is a psychologist, participation and interactions on this site or with The Broken Pack do not constitute a doctor-patient or other therapeutic relationship with Dr. Angela Dean. Should you require psychological services, please locate a local provider. Your primary care provider or insurance company may be able to assist you in finding appropriate care. If you are experiencing an immediate emergency, please call the National Suicide & Crisis hotline at 988 (US Only) or proceed to your nearest emergency room. If your needs are not an emergency but you need someone to talk to please call a warm line for support. A local (US only) warm lines directory can be found here.
The Broken Pack™ acknowledges and validates the loss and pain of grieving parents, grandparents, children losing siblings in childhood, romantic partners, and children of the deceased as valid and difficult. Should you have wandered onto this page and fit in one of those categories, please know we empathize with you and can connect you to the many existing resources if needed, just reach out to us through firstname.lastname@example.org