A psychotherapeutic exploration of the experience of sibling loss as presenting in the therapeutic encounter

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Smith, Linda
Issue Date
MA in Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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The loss of a sibling is a traumatic event. In the natural order of things one would expect that we bury our parents first and later into our adult life one buries a sibling. The current study revealed that loosing a sibling is a very lonely experience while also unveiling irrespective of when we loose someone their presence remains with us forever. The main contribution of this study was to understand the meaning of the experience of loosing a sibling the objective being that through increased awareness and insight a deeper understanding of that loss will both inform and support the work of Psychotherapists in clinical practice. The study disclosed that sibling loss comprises multiple losses: the loss of a brother or sister, the loss of the family unit and the loss of the parents as the siblings had known them. The study showed that everybody grieves in different ways and this can be influenced by attachment styles and personality types. As such grief is a relational experience. Sibling loss goes unacknowledged but that does not mean it does not exist. The study revealed the power of silence in both concealing and protecting ones sorrow and the importance of finding a space to express one grief which facilitates the healing process. Author keywords: Sibling bonds, sibling loss, parental grief, relational styles, silence