Regardless of age, siblings often suffer in silence. Grieving for their own loss and hoping to maintain family unity, most do not vocalize their pain.
Growing up together fosters a unique relationship among siblings. Shared meals, jokes, holidays, and perspectives create a deep bond that is meant to last a lifetime. Parenting during a time of family crisis can pose a particular challenge for parents because their own grief can render them unable to care for themselves, let alone their children.
Although there are notable and anticipated differences among siblings who lose a brother or sister at various ages, there are many commonalities. Feelings of emptiness, abandonment, and wading through their own loss alone are experienced by young and old siblings alike. Keeping their feelings private in an attempt to protect parents and other siblings is not uncommon, nor are feelings of inadequacy or thinking "I will never be enough" to make my parents happy again.
Acknowledging loss is important at any age. For younger children, grief can manifest itself in social interactions with peers. Older and adult siblings may struggle in relationships with life partners and/or their own children.
Universally, all siblings fare better when there are opportunities to integrate their brother or sister into their lives. Whether it is through creating keepsakes or memory books or helping to plan the memorial, each engagement offers a sibling an opportunity to cope and process their loss and can help prevent deep and long-term grief and isolation.