The basics of different family therapy techniques were highlighted in the 2019 Family Therapy Conference. One of the topics that came to light is how children respond to loss and grief.
Siblings have a natural bond. From birth until they grow up, most siblings have a deep connection that no one else would match. While it’s easy to hope and think that children are resilient, they suffer as sincerely from the loss of a sibling as their parents do.
If they aren’t guided appropriately on how to cope with grief, children often carry the feeling into adulthood. Hence, it is crucial as a parent and a guardian to give attention and support to a grieving child.
Sibling And Family Dynamics
Losing a sibling changes everything for the children left behind, and often they grieve many different losses along with it. Even if the child weren’t part of the reason why the other sibling died, there is still the thought in their minds that they are the surviving sibling. Hence, the guilt, pain, and trauma that it brings to the sibling left behind.
If siblings are close, they lose not only a familial bond but also the loss of a friend. Similarly, if siblings weren’t on good terms and they lost the other, they lose the chance for resolution—they are left to solve their relationship on their own.
It also changes the whole family dynamic. Depending on who is the oldest, middle, or youngest child, siblings take on different roles. Having that role altered in an instance can change the way everything works for each family member. Overcoming this shift may be difficult for the surviving sibling when they are grieving.
Family Therapy As A Way To Manage Pain And Grief
Undergoing a therapy can help hold the whole family, especially children, as they grieve a child and sibling’s loss. Having a professional counselor or therapist, who is not a part of the family can help children process this challenging time.
During therapy sessions, a child can voice out their feelings without the added pressure as with talking with a family member. A loss of a sibling often creates an inevitable and non-negotiable growth, and having a therapist can help not only children but also grieving adults to unpack, feel, and grow after a sibling and child loss.