“To lose a sibling is to lose the one person with whom one shares a lifelong bond that is meant to continue on into the future.”

— John Corey Whaley

Sibling Loss is a Disenfranchised Loss

“Siblings may be ambivalent about their relationships in life, but in death the power of their bond strangles the surviving heart. Death reminds us that we are part of the same river, the same flow from the same source, rushing towards the same destiny. Were you close? Yes, but we didn’t know it then.” — Barbara Ascher

Siblings

It’s a bit odd that sibling loss is  not discussed more. 80-88% of  people across the world have siblings.  The relationship with siblings is supposed to be the longest one in our lives (from birth or childhood until old age). And, sibling relationships become more important as people age as siblings are often taking care of and mourning parents together, as marriages or other relationships fail, as children grow up, and as siblings become widowed, divorced, etc.

While the quality of those relationships vary and have been study, the fact remains that it is most likely at least one sibling will outlive their siblings. Yet, sibling grief and loss is a misunderstood concept for adults who have lost a sibling.

Sibling Loss

As such, siblings often feel misunderstood or invalidated in their losses of their sibling and so many secondary losses resulting from the loss of the sibling. We are working to change that while also supporting the many grieving siblings around the world.

Disenfranchised Grievers or Disenfranchised Loss

Sibling loss is often referred to as disenfranchised loss and sibling loss survivors are often called disenfranchised grievers. What does that mean?

What Disenfranchised Loss is:

Disenfranchised grief was first described by Dr. Ken Doka in 1989. According to Dr. Doka, it 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. Siblings are often not supported by others in their grief and are told to focus on the grief of their parents (if they are living) or on their sibling’s kids or partner. Others often unwittingly don’t realize siblings even grieve or mourn their siblings, invalidating the loss or the impact it has on a grieving sibling.

What it is not:

It is not just forgotten, merely unnoticed, or hidden in some way. So, while grieving siblings are sometimes called “Forgotten Mourners,” this idoes not really align with Dr. Ken Doka’s conceptualization of disenfranchised grief. 

How are sibling loss survivors disenfranchised?

Originally, Dr. Doka described three ways that grief or grievers can be disenfranchised. He has since expanded the concept to include five ways.  Let’s look at these from a sibling loss perspective.

The first type is when the relationship isn’t recognized. Usually the sibling relationship is recognized. However, in sibling grief can be disenfranchised if the relationship is estranged or if the sibling is a step- or half- sibling. There are other ways this could be unrecognized. The second type is the loss isn’t recognized. In most cases, sibling loss doesn’t fit neatly here as the loss is recognized as a loss itself but it falls more under the third type of loss, when the griever isn’t recognized. This type is where siblings are asked how their parents, the kids, the partners, etc. are doing but  are not seen as grievers.

Dr. Doka added two other types of disenfranchisement to these original three. The fourth type is when there is stigma attached to the death often because of circumstances of or way someone died such as suicide or addiction. For many sibling loss survivors this also fits. This type makes seeking help difficult as the circumstances or associated stigma may complicate perceptions, biases, & interactions – even with some helping professionals. It also includes exploration of emotions and reactions that are not aligned with what society expects. For example, relief, peace, anger…

Lastly, the fifth type of disenfranchised grief is when the griever’s grief process doesn’t align with the norms of their society or culture. 

In any of these cases, bereaved siblings who are disenfranchised grievers for one reason or another quite often experience significant impact of their disenfranchisementon their well-being. The impact may be long term and may result in unresolved emotions, isolation, guilt & shame, feelings of invisibility, avoidance or suppression of grief, depression, and/or anxiety. They may have difficulty incorporating their loss into life.


If you feel disenfranchised in your sibling loss, The Broken Pack™ wants you to know that you aren’t alone and we recognize you, your loss, and your grief.

Be sure to check out our podcast to hear stories of other surviving sibling loss!

Check us out on Instagram!
One of the biggest challenges in grief of a family member is the change in family dynamics and roles. Strangely, siblings are often assumed to be less affected or to somehow keep it all together for the family. 💔 

#siblingloss #grief #buzzsprout #podcast #griefsupport #lifeafterloss #disenfranchisedgrief #siblinglosssupport #siblinglosssurvivor #survivingsibling #siblingsurvivor #thebrokenpack  #mourning  #loss #sibling #siblingbereavement #griefeducation #thanatology #thanatologist #psychologist #psychologistsofinstagram #grief
This! Grief is very personal. Kassy says it so well.

If you haven’t listened, go take a listen to Kassy on Season 3, episode 3 talk about losing her younger sister Rheanna tragically following a medical incident. 💔 

#siblingloss #grief #buzzsprout #podcast #griefsupport #lifeafterloss #disenfranchisedgrief #siblinglosssupport #siblinglosssurvivor #survivingsibling #siblingsurvivor #thebrokenpack  #mourning  #loss #sibling #siblingbereavement #griefeducation #thanatology #thanatologist #psychologist #psychologistsofinstagram #grief
Comment below with your sibling’s or  siblings’ names. Then share this post and let your friends and family know you want to hear more about your sibling!

Many #grieving #siblings feel that others stop talking about their late sibling and can feel like they are burdening others when they talk about their siblings.  Yet, for many, talking about them is part of grieving.  Share stories. Ask about them. Listen. It means the world to so many. Bringing them up doesn’t bring up someone they aren’t likely thinking about.

And I’ll start- my amazing, very much missed brother is Tony Pietropaolo. 💔

#siblingloss #griefsupport #lifeafterloss #disenfranchisedgrief #siblinglosssupport #siblinglosssurvivor #survivingsibling #siblingsurvivor #thebrokenpack #siblingsurvivor  #mourning #griefsupport #loss #sibling #siblingbereavement #griefeducation #thanatology #thanatologist #psychologist #psychologistsofinstagram #grievingsibling #lifeafterloss  #normalizegrief
❤️‍🩹 while we probably joked - and wished we could now- that our siblings were a “pain in the neck (or other body part),” it can be so surprising to realize the physical impact that grief has on us. The mind-body connection is real! 
Broken heart 💔 syndrome is a real thing. And, grief can physically manifest in so many other ways. 
What have you experienced physically in your grief? Comment below!

#siblingloss #griefsupport #lifeafterloss #disenfranchisedgrief #siblinglosssupport #siblinglosssurvivor #survivingsibling #siblingsurvivor #thebrokenpack #siblingsurvivor  #mourning #griefsupport #loss #sibling #siblingbereavement #griefeducation #thanatology #thanatologist #psychologist #psychologistsofinstagram #grief #lifeafterloss  #normalizegrief #grieving #bereaved #bereavedsibling #sibling #grief
Comment on how this has affected you!

#siblings are supposed to be present for more of our lives than most any other relationship (parents, kids, partners, friends, etc. Although, cousins and some friends may be as well but likely do not spend as much time with you in youth)

#siblingloss , therefore, naturally impacts how we interact with our past, present, and future. Comment on how this has affected you!

#griefsupport #lifeafterloss #disenfranchisedgrief #siblinglosssupport #siblinglosssurvivor #survivingsibling #siblingsurvivor  #mourning #griefsupport #loss #sibling #siblingbereavement #griefeducation #thanatology #thanatologist #psychologist #psychologistsofinstagram #grief #grieving

Let’s #normalizegrief ! 💔
🌟 🎙️ In Season 3, #Episode 9, Cally realized just how much she changed - even when others expected her to be the same as she was before!❤️‍🩹

#siblingloss #griefsupport #lifeafterloss #disenfranchisedgrief #siblinglosssupport #siblinglosssurvivor #survivingsibling #siblingsurvivor #thebrokenpack #siblingsurvivor  #mourning #griefsupport #loss #sibling #siblingbereavement #griefeducation #thanatology #thanatologist #psychologist #psychologistsofinstagram #grief #lifeafterloss  #normalizegrief #grieving #bereaved #bereavedsibling #sibling #grief
Talking about and carrying our siblings forward is so hard. And just as Cally said, not doing so is sometimes so much more difficult!

#siblingloss  #siblinggrief #griefeducation #siblinggriefsupport #thanatology
🌟 🎙️ In Season 3, Episode 9, Cally shares about how the things people say to grievers affects the grieving person. Listen to the full episode to hear how she had learned to respond to others as well as how she validates her own #siblingloss.

Let’s normalize grief ! See our partner, Not Done Here, for cards that address these types of statements and let a grieving sibling or other grieved know you validate their loss!

 #siblinggrief
#griefsupport #siblinglossmatters #siblingloss #griefeducation
#siblingloss is not less than other #loss. It’s different and often #disenfranchised by both survivors and society.

We may grieve differently from other siblings or family members. That is ok. Taking care of others in grief is fine but we don’t have to grieve silently. 

#siblingloss #griefsupport #lifeafterloss #disenfranchisedgrief #siblinglosssupport #siblinglosssurvivor #survivingsibling #siblingsurvivor #thebrokenpack  #mourning #griefsupport #loss #sibling #siblingbereavement #griefeducation #thanatology #thanatologist #psychologist #psychologistsofinstagram #grief #lifeafterloss  #normalizegrief #grieving

Let’s #normalizegrief !
#boundaries are healthy and meant to protect us- just like a fence around your yard. They keep some things in and other things out. Emotional, physical, spiritual, financial, time, and sexual/ relationship boundaries help us maintain safety and protection. They are not selfish.  Some are permanent and some are temporary.

💔In grief, a lot of people - usually well-meaning- think they can overrun your boundaries. Guess what? You are in charge of setting and enforcing your boundaries. You can even change them or have different boundaries for different people or situations! Other people don’t have to like them.😲

What are some examples of boundaries in grief?
Saying no when you need to. Letting some people in and keeping others out is a fine and healthy boundary. Telling others you want their advice or support and letting others know you don’t. Saying no to celebrations or holidays. Ending toxic relationships. Taking time for yourself. Saying no to the next offer of a meal service. Declining to share details about the death is a perfectly okay boundary. 

These are only some examples. 
Know that sometimes others will push against those boundaries and you may be tempted to relax them. If you want to, fine. But, if it’s because you are wearing down or feel obligated, know others will eventually learn your boundaries and stop pushing if you consistently reinforce them. This may likely be uncomfortable, but eventually it will feel so much better!

#siblingloss #griefsupport #lifeafterloss #disenfranchisedgrief #siblinglosssupport #siblinglosssurvivor #survivingsibling #siblingsurvivor #thebrokenpack  #mourning #griefsupport #loss #sibling #siblingbereavement #griefeducation #thanatology #thanatologist #psychologist #psychologistsofinstagram #grief #lifeafterloss  #normalizegrief #grieving

Let’s #normalizegrief !
How often do you think or feel pressured to get back to your “old self”? Sometimes that is external pressure and sometimes it’s internal. In any case, how could we ever be the same when our longest expected relationship ends? It’s ok to grieve your self. It’s ok to incorporate loss into life. It’s okay not to force that. ❤️‍🩹

#siblingloss #griefsupport #lifeafterloss #disenfranchisedgrief #siblinglosssupport #siblinglosssurvivor #survivingsibling #siblingsurvivor #thebrokenpack #siblingsurvivor  #mourning #griefsupport #loss #sibling #siblingbereavement #griefeducation #thanatology #thanatologist #psychologist #psychologistsofinstagram #grief #lifeafterloss  #normalizegrief #grieving #bereaved #bereavedsibling #sibling #grief
Can you relate?