Sibling Credo

We are the surviving siblings of The Compassionate Friends.
We are brought together by the deaths of our brothers and sisters.
Open your hearts to us, but have patience with us.
Sometimes we will need the support of our friends.
At other times we need our families to be there.
Sometimes we must walk alone, taking our memories with us,
continuing to become the individuals we want to be.
We cannot be our dead brother or sister;
however, a special part of them lives on with us.
When our brothers and sisters died, our lives changed.
We are living a life very different from what we envisioned,
and we feel the responsibility to be strong even when we feel weak.
Yet we can go on because we understand better than many
the value of family and the precious gift of life.
Our goal is not to be the forgotten mourners that we sometimes are,
but to walk together to face our tomorrows as surviving siblings of
The Compassionate Friends.

Resources for Siblings

Sibling Chat Room: Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday 8:00 PM for adult and teen siblings to share concerns and feelings. Log on http://www.compassionatefriends.org and click on the CHAT link

Sibling Forum: Siblings help each other cope with the unique grief of losing a brother or sister. This is not a public board. You must request the password from the tcfsiblingrep@compassionatefriends.org.

Sibling Pen Pal: This is an email list for bereaved siblings of any age wishing to meet other siblings with similar interests, hobbies and whose sibling may have had a similar cause of death. Call TCF toll free (877) 969-0010 or email Tcfsiblingrep@compassionatefriends.org for URL.

(The Best of)
Ask Dr. Paulson

Q: My sister and my father have both died. They are the only people my mother has pictures of on display. Mom has four living children and many grandchildren, but their pictures are never displayed. What can I do?

A: I often hear from surviving siblings that their parents put up lots of pictures or very large pictures of their brothers or sisters who died. This is often very difficult for the surviving children. They ask questions like: What about me—I’m still living, don’t I count? Aren’t you proud of me? How do I compete with a ghost? Don’t you care that it’s difficult for me to see his or her picture all the time? How can I ever get them to love me as much as they love my brother or sister who died? This is the important part that you need to talk about—how it makes you feel and what you think when you see these pictures up around the house. What do you feel? What do you think about yourself? What do you think about your relationship with your mom? What do you think about your mom’s love for you? We can talk about why your mother only puts up pictures of your father and sister who died, but the most important part is how this is affecting you. This is what you need to talk about with your mother.

Although understanding why parents only put up pictures of their children who died should not be the main focus of my reply, a brief explanation may be helpful. Generally there are two main reasons: 1) Parents are afraid that their children who died will be forgotten and everything will go on as if they never lived; and 2) This is one way to keep them in their lives every day. Parents see, talk with, or know they can reach their living family members anytime, but this is one way that they can keep their children who died alive in their hearts every day. But again, understanding why should be only a small part of your focus. The main thing is that you communicate with your mom how this makes you think and feel. You’ll be surprised how this will help your relationship grow stronger.

Mary A. Paulson, PhD, is a bereaved sibling as well as a child and adolescent psychologist at Harding Hospital in Worthington, Ohio. Her question and answer column, aimed at bereaved siblings and the family that loves them, appears in the quarterly TCF national magazine, We Need Not Walk Alone. Copyright 1996.