How to console someone who lost a sibling

Associated Press
Associated Press

February 24, 2021

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A sibling is often someone’s first friend. The person who best understands the family’s dynamic. Someone who travels through life’s stages, shares memories of childhood.

Many forge lifetime bonds.

The death of a sibling can leave a cavernous hole.

“A sibling’s death becomes an anchor marker,” said Paul Friday, chief of psychology for UPMC Shadyside and president of Shadyside Psychological Services. “The sibling’s life freezes in that time. We try to move forward, but our sibling isn’t moving forward with us.”

How do you console someone who has lost a sibling? There is no perfect way, but perhaps these tips may help.

Never use the phrases ‘You should’, ‘You have to’, ‘You must not’, or ‘You better not’, or give advice on what you would do if you lost a sibling, said Paul Friday, chief of psychology at UPMC Shadyside.

The most helpful thing that someone can do is listen. “There is a far, far more consoling aspect to listening intently with compassion than with telling someone what they can do to feel better,” he said.

If appropriate, touch and hug. Sit if the person is sitting or stand if he or she is standing.

“Sibling loss, like any significant loss, just like gravity: it sucks,” he said. “Time helps, but the pain is palpable in the loss of part of you that can never be recaptured.”

Photo by Jorn Eriksen on Unsplash.

lifestyle@gleanerjm.com

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