Bereaved Parents, Child/Teen Sibling Loss, Grieving Children, neo-natal/infant death

Those We Often Forget (young sibling grief)

by Jennifer Radosevich

Shining in bright yellow lights, it read, “The Bereaved Parent Club.” Every night, my dream of the club was always so vivid. Upon each morning awakening, I knew it was not a dream, but the reality my life had become. Continue reading “Those We Often Forget (young sibling grief)”

Bereaved Parents, Child/Teen Sibling Loss, Grieving Children, The Road Less Traveled

The Forgotten Griever (young sibling grief)

by Caroline Flohr

Caroline Flohr smallThe sibling bond is often overlooked when a sibling dies…and siblings do have a very special relationship. When considering grief, it’s the familial relationship least studied. It’s most unfortunate because our children who live often become the “forgotten griever.” And yet, just like us, their lives are not the same because relationships change when a child dies.

Losing a sibling has a special grief all its own. It’s as if they’ve lost part of their past and their future. When one child dies, the surviving sibling must grow up faster than anyone should, losing the innocence of childhood. Most often they find themselves in a new role—taking care of others, and their identity is gone. Sometimes they feel they’ve lost their parents to the overwhelming grief because we, as parents, do not function as before our child died. And watching us grieve can be harder than their own grief.

Unbeknownst to us, fear sets in and consumes their thoughts. Will someone else they love die? Loneliness can overwhelm with the realization that there is no shared future, only memories to recall. And often times, friends do not know how to respond. When an important event occurs, the grief gets reprocessed. It comes back in waves. Anxiety, panic attacks, sleeping issues, and depression are common. Medication and sleeping aids can help. Sleep is very important in the healing process. Suicidal thoughts are not far away. Isolation from the lack of attention and support can also lead surviving siblings down this path. They may want to be with their sibling again. Some will attempt suicide at least once. But thankfully, lingering in the back of minds is the hurt it would inflict on parents and others they love. Professional therapy can help, if the sibling is open and willing. Sometimes the surviving sibling just needs someone to talk to. Sometimes the therapist can offer insight that their feelings are normal. Sometimes therapy isn’t productive. And that’s okay. Or maybe the child who lives believes that Heaven awaits them, where their sibling now is. In either case, hopefully the attachment to immediate family awakens and strengthens with more appreciation, openness and love.

In the early days, if possible, focus on your children who live. Children are often more resilient than us. As I found my daughter, Sarah, alive within, I discovered more grace to confront my own grief. And as I watched my surviving children navigate their days with more depth and return to the joys and pleasures of life before their sibling’s death, then my daily routine became more manageable.

Just as we find ourselves struck with denial, anger, guilt, and regrets, so do our children who live. I learned from my children who live that these three actions were most important to them when grief set in.

• LISTEN…because I will hear.

I cannot eliminate their pain. But my presence and my caring response let them know that they are not alone. I schedule one-on-one time with each of my children just as I schedule a date with a friend. I am learning to truly embrace their unique qualities.

• SAY THE NAME OF THE DECEASED SIBLING frequently. I weave Sarah’s name into everyday conversation. It lets my family know that Sarah is not forgotten. We share stories and memories. I am learning to keep communication open. I ask my children to be open to signs from their sister. Those signs offer great comfort.

Each of us grieves, and each griever must find his own way. Grief doesn’t necessarily coincide with any stages. We must honor the uniqueness of grief. It’s a life-long process of jumping back and forth and every place in between. And when in our darkest moments, look to the love and spirit of our children who live. I have found that the love and resilience of my four children who live heals and strengthens me in ways I’d never known before my daughter, Sarah, died. Today we all walk together.

About the Author: A Seattle area native, Caroline is nourished on a daily basis by the natural beauty, wildlife and peaceful beaches in the Pacific Northwest. When she’s not enjoying the outdoors with family, she is working on her second book, a humorous story about a family wedding…guess who is getting married? Caroline lives with her husband, children and faithful yellow lab, Lady Brooke, on Bainbridge Island.

Caroline Flohr is the author of a true story, Heaven’s Child. Print edition are available at Amazon, B & N, and your local bookstore, eBook on Kindle and Nook.
P.O. Box 4625, Rolling Bay, WA 98061

Other articles by Caroline:

Just as Death is Most Personal, So Is Grief

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Bereaved Parents, Child/Teen Sibling Loss, Grieving Children, teen death, The Road Less Traveled

Just as Death is Most Personal, So is Grief (teen twin accident)

by Caroline Flohr

The journey is ours alone, but not ours to walk alone. I’d like to tell you a little about my journey.

Like most women my age with five children, my life was busy. Three children from a first marriage and two from a second, I was focused on family and living a quiet life on Bainbridge Island, just a 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Seattle. Nothing could have prepared me for the early morning knock at our front door in August 2004. That morning, our lives changed. Unbeknownst to us, eight teens had packed into an SUV and took a midnight joyride on our dark island roads. My 16-year-old twin daughter, Sarah, was dead. No details were given. The coroner called 4 hours later. No one was asked to identify her body.

Our epic period of trauma began. Continue reading “Just as Death is Most Personal, So is Grief (teen twin accident)”

Child/Teen Sibling Loss, Grieving Children

Blake Scalise ~ A Brother Copes with Grief

Editor Note: In our April issue, Jennifer Scalise shared her story about the death of her daughter, Brooke, as the result of an ATV accident (Learning to Dance in the Rain). I am very proud to present two poems that her brother, Blake, has written since Brooke’s death. This is the path he has chosen to take on his personal journey through grief. Thank you Blake for your poems.

Blake Scalise

The days before the pain
Life was sincere
Given these hardships
I know that you’re still here
Rain fell upon
Us with no end in near
The days went by
Stolen from us
Left with tears
So young, yet so near
No one deserves this…
No end in sight
The past too far gone
Why can’t she come back
Her time brought to dawn
My life dissolves among the time
Without her here
Just come back to me
Come back home.
Blake Scalise copyright 2011

Blake and Brooke Scalise

Brought into the water
Never feeling more awake
How can we walk on top
If we’re too weak to stand?

Days become a blur
Every day has its pain
But its the comfort from above
Clouds at day, stars at night
We’re never alone.

It may seem to be an endless walk
We’ll get to a point
Our hope pays off
Determination to keep that dreary image
And attempt to walk on water
While we can barely even stand.

Something we couldn’t ever do alone.
Blake Scalise, April 12, 2012 – copyright 2012

About the Author: Blake Scalise, 17, is a junior in high school in St. Charles, Missouri. He and his sister Brooke, who passed in July 2009 (when Blake was 14), were only 18 months apart. Blake and Brooke were best friends and shared a unique special bond. One simply didn’t say Blake or see Blake without Brooke. From the moment of the tragic accident in Costa Rica, Blake felt the need to be strong and supportive for both his mother and father who were left fragile and broken after the loss. He continued on in school, as planned prior to the accident, enrolled in his freshman year in four honors classes. Eventually things caught up to him — Blake needed time to properly grieve on his own. He suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) a year after Brooke passed. It took him over a year to work through this period of deep depression. He saw many dark days. Blake turned to writing as a healthy release for his emotions and often wrote poems to express himself. Over time, Blake has managed to get back to a healthy “new normal”. He recognizes he has to let his emotions out on occasion and simply cannot keep them bottled in. He has returned to his passions of hockey and paintball, has been motivated to find his first job and start working, and has a special, beautiful young friend that he now shares a special bond with and is able to talk to and share things that he would have before shared with Brooke. He has a vibrant 8 year old sister, Paige, that, although she is young now, loves to look after him in that “sisterly” way.