Sibling grief is not unique in itself but more so the sibling relationship is. Brothers and sisters share a history, each an integral part of the others past. We have common memories, the same childhood experiences and therefore mutual connections to the past that we will never replicate with another human being ever. When a sibling dies you are not only robbed of their presence in the here and now, you are robbed of that special co-history and, most devastatingly of all, you are robbed of all your planned tomorrows. The ensuing loneliness and grief is a heavy burden to carry for the sibling(s) left behind.
The Sibling Relationship
The following paragraphs describe the unique relationship better than I can;
“Sibling relationships obviously vary in their degrees of closeness, love, and amicability. Some siblings may be thick as thieves, others wonder whether they’re even really related. Regardless, siblings are our ties to family bonds. They have known us the longest. They understand our history and are the people with whom we have the longest running jokes.
They are our bridesmaids and our groomsmen. They are our children’s aunts and uncles. They bail us out when we’re in trouble, they loan us money, and then we loan it back. They are the most judgmental people we know. They are the most accepting and loving people we know. Siblings can never be replaced and when they are gone we miss the hell out of them.”
(Extracts from Whats Your Grief) https://whatsyourgrief.com/
Triona was my bridesmaid, in fact she was pretty much my right hand woman from the day she was born. We always had each other’s back. I was fiercely protective of her as some of her ex boyfriends could tell you. I was the big sister and I took my job very seriously. We were really close and she loved to brag that she could read me like a book, and she could you know, she knew me thinking. I know it sounds really corny but we used to finish each others sentences, we were just on the same wave length, we shared the same sense of humour, we loved the same TV programmes, movies and books. We shared everything except clothes, her scarves were the only things that fit me, ha ha! Triona was always slim so we shared accessories, shoes, jewellery, handbags and makeup instead. We shared interests, secrets, hobbies, jokes, love and laughter and pretty much our entire lives. I always presumed we would do that forever, I just thought we had forever and it is really difficult to know that we don’t.
A life cut short.
I am devastated that all the times we shared will remain only my memories now. I can only tell them from my point of view and I really miss Triona filling in the gaps. More than anything I miss our chats. We talked about everything, she knew every inch of my life, we had few secrets from each other and we asked each other’s opinion on literally everything. God we had some great chats, we had great plans and some hare-brained schemes too, (they were usually mine mind you). She used to roll her eyes to heaven and say to me “what are you like Mav!” followed by a wee titter.
She was my number one champion, and I hers. She was always in my corner, supporting me, encouraging me and most importantly she loved me for who I was and never ever judged me. She loved me warts and all. How lucky was I to have that, how unbelievably lucky was I to have her as my sister. I am devastated that her life was cut so short, for her and for us. I will be forever sad that she never got to fulfil her dream of having her own family, building her own house, meeting her nephews and watching all our children grow up together and reach their milestones.
Triona’s untimely death robbed her of her future and us of our future with her too. You don’t ever think about planning your baby sister’s funeral, it’s just not something you ever contemplate. We do of course think about our parent’s mortality, particularly when friends have sadly lost their mum or dad. So it’s incredibly difficult to get your head around your sister dying because it wasn’t her turn or time to go. She skipped the bloody queue and in the very early days the shock of it all sends your body, mind and soul into utter chaos as you try to understand this strange and confusing world that doesn’t have your beautiful sister in it anymore. Nothing whatsoever makes sense either. Everything is strange, unfamiliar. Your brain unable to compute the tragedy which has altered your life beyond recognition. You just cannot reconcile to life without her, a huge void in her place, where she should be, with us, alive and well.
Everything is now either before or after..
The saddest part in all of this, is that you do adjust to the strange world ‘after Triona’ eventually. Here I am 4 years down the line from the time Triona died and I am living, I am well and I am happy. If you had told me that 4 years ago, 2 years ago even, I’d never have believed, not for one second, that I could ever be happy in a world and life without her in it. However, along the way I have discovered I can be happy and sad at the same time, I can have grief walk along beside me, parallel with living my life too. It is a different, harder life than ‘before’, you have so much emotion and feeling to carry as well as your responsibilities in your daily life. All of this combined can feel really bloody heavy.
The ‘Grief Workout’
But I think carrying my grief is like going to the gym to lift weights, every day I get fitter and stronger, able to lift a little bit more. My grief is my weight, its my grief that makes me stronger. It feels like I have been training my body, mind and soul to lift my grief (weight), without me really realising it. But, I am concious of the fact that just because I am getting fitter and I can lift more weight, it doesn’t mean that it’s not heavy. I still need my ‘spotters’ (grief mates) to look out for me. I need them to support me, encourage me and make sure I am not lifting too much on my own..
My message here is that losing a brother or sister is extremely tough, its tougher than tough and your grief matters just as much as everyone else’s who lost him or her. Your pain matters! You matter! Find the people who know this, find the right people to help you do the heavy lifting and don’t worry about those who can’t.
Not everyone is fit enough to lift.
After that, all that’s left is for us to try to live our best lives because we owe it to our siblings who cannot.
Thank you for reading!
Grief is love. 💜