Looking out the window – an insight into being a bereaved sibling

By ‘The Classified Group’ – Brooklyn, Mackenzie, Aubrey, Ruby, Henry, Daniel and Chloe

What we’d like you to know:

  • Being a bereaved sibling is hard, devastating and it can feel really unfair.
  • It can make you feel really different to those around you and others think that it is weird. You do wonder sometimes ‘why did it happen to me’ and it can make you feel sad and lonely.
  • When my sibling was sick there was a lot of confusion and sometimes I did not know what was happening.
  • Sometimes people or friends even think we use it to gain attention, this is really offensive.
  • Sometimes people think that you are weak because it is hard, but they don’t realise how strong we are.
  • It feels good to not be the only one and having a sibling die is different to the death of someone else. For example a grandparent dying is sad, but you don’t spend so much time with them and you also have several grandparents. A sibling dying is less common and this leads to feeling lonely, as others don’t understand.
  • On the positive side, being a bereaved sibling makes you better at understanding and caring for others. It makes you grow up a little faster and become more mature and make great older siblings.
  • It can be hard to explain feelings to an adult, because they don’t understand.
  • Sometimes we don’t talk to parents, because we feel a need to protect them.

What bereaved siblings need from other kids and adults:

  • Information. We need to know what has happened and/or what is happening.
  • We need other people to know what has happened in our world. For example teachers knowing we are a bereaved sibling and because sometimes we may need some support.
  • Sometimes we need a hug.
  • Sometimes we need some space to talk with a parent, friend or teacher.
  • We need some alone time. Or if we feel overwhelmed we need some time out.
  • Sometimes we need our pet for comfort.
  • Access to counselling at school or the ‘calm bay’ – calming toys to access if feeling sad at school – is really helpful. It is good to be able to leave the room if we are feeling sad at school. Changes at school can be very stressful for bereaved kids – including substitute teachers who don’t know our story.
  • Being able to draw or just play with toys can be helpful too.
  • We need support and respect.

VSK has helped by having sibling days. These allow us opportunities to connect with other kids who understand.