Wild Grief Special Issue: Coping with Father's Day as a Grieving Sibling!

Published 12 months ago • 3 min read

A weekly newsletter delivering sibling loss specific grief resources, support and validation, coping strategies, sibling loss stories, news from The Broken Pack, and much more- including exclusive content and opportunities for subscribers.

Hello, Reader!

In the United States and numerous other countries, Sunday June 18th is Father's Day. In the Australia and other countries, this day falls on other dates.

You may wonder why a newsletter on sibling loss is addressing Father's Day. Let me explain.

(And if you read the Mother's Day issue, much of this may sound the same.)

Grief is a reaction to loss.

Once a family structure includes siblings, the family system adapts ,and all members of that family have to adapt in order to make it function well - or as well as it can. So, when part of the system is lost, the rest of the system change, react, or respond. These losses may include people, hopes, dreams, expectations, stories, memories, and so much more.

The reactions we have to those losses is what is defined as grief.

In the case of Father's Day (and other celebrations or holidays), our reactions to our loss- grief, if you will- may look like many things.

While the day is focused on fathers, this day is often difficult or challenging for many - but not all- grieving siblings.

  • For some grieving siblings, the holiday may remind them of shared celebrations, relationships their lost siblings had with their fathers (living or deceased), or seeing the pain that the holiday activates in their grieving father.
  • For others, being a father and celebrating can be difficult as celebrations can stir a mix of emotions and they may not feel like celebrating anything at all.
  • For others, the holiday may feel joyous, a time to celebrate their dads, reflections on being a dad themselves, and embracing all of the relationships of their siblings and dads together.
  • Surviving partners and children of deceased siblings may also have their own grief reactions on this holiday that influence the grieving siblings' reactions as well.

These are just a few responses and there are likely hundreds of others.

So, now what?

Tips for grieving siblings

  1. Take a moment and consider how your family dynamics are different without your sibling
  2. Consider how you may or may not want to celebrate.
  3. Consider how you, your father (if living), other siblings, the partners or children of your sibling, may or may not want to celebrate.
  4. Allow yourself and others to be flexible in planning for the day and remember, that it's okay to change your mind or if others change theirs! (And, it's okay to have all the feelings you have regardless of theirs!)
  5. Communicate as best as you can what you are feeling, thinking, and need- even if you don't know.
  6. Be open and curious about what others need or are experiencing and ask specific questions about "How are you doing with this today?" or make statements that validate their experiences without assuming anything.
  7. Know that you are not alone.

Tips for supporting grieving siblings

  1. Be open and curious about what others need or are experiencing and ask specific questions about "How are you doing with this today?" or make statements that validate their experiences without assuming anything.
  2. Podcast guest from season 1 and certified grief educator, Jenn Oglesbee, has some great tips on supporting grievers on Father's Day. The section on "Ways to support grieving people this Father's Day" is especially relevant to supporting all grievers including grieving siblings. Check it out (and subscribe to her newsletter as well at https://www.jennoglesbee.com/blog/fathers-day-resources

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I'm Dr. Angela Dean, a sibling loss survivor, a thanatologist, and a psychologist in private practice. I'm also the founder & owner of The Broken Pack™, an organization supporting adult survivors of adult sibling loss. We are also committed to supporting survivors and educating others on sibling loss and grief. Sign up to receive our newsletter, WIld Grief, to stay up to date!

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