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Hello, Reader!

Secondary (and possibly tertiary) losses

I posted on instagram (see below for the image) about secondary losses in sibling loss this week. These are losses that we experience as a result of the initial loss which in this case is the loss of our sibling.

It got me to thinking about just how much I have lost. I lost my only brother and that sure enough wrecked me. If that wasn’t enough, I lost so much more and these losses are sometimes the ones that catch me off guard and trigger a storm of tears, sadness, and despair. I have realized it’s the relational losses and hopes for future plans, especially the ones we discussed in the weeks leading up to his death, that hit me hardest.

Additionally, some of these losses also fall into the category of ambiguous loss. Ambiguous loss is often one that comes with uncertainty- uncertainty for permanence, uncertainty about what it even is that is lost – and is often difficult to explain.

For me, I see social media posts by others or remember something or someone with whom I no longer have connection with – largely in part due to my brother’s death. These losses trigger a whole host of emotions for me including utter despair, regret for actions or words I said or didn’t say, sorrow for loss of connection, sorrow for my brother and I having never been able to make certain things we talked about would happen, awareness of the loss, anger at myself and others (as well as anger at my brother), hopelessness, and also hope.

While most of these emotions are negative, I am learning to let them be there and to fully experience them as they come along. And, it is not easy or comfortable.

Navigating Secondary & Ambiguous Loss:

  • Learning to embrace these losses and the grief with them is difficult. However, the more we fight the urge to ignore them, the more power they have over us.

    • So, take a minute and reflect on what is happening for you and what emotions are coming up in the moment of grief.
    • Ask yourself if you are grieving the person your sibling was and/or all of these other losses.
    • If it is the other losses, ask what can you do? Are these actions you are willing to take? In doing so, will they bring any other challenges or distress? If so, is it still worth doing?
    • As always, be compassionate, loving, and kind with yourself.

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Warmly with compassion in my heart for you,



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