The Sibling Grief Club

I am a member of a club that I really hate participating in, but without it I would not be the person I am today.

Every now and then required meetings call for me to revisit my membership and when it happens I am reminded just how much I really don’t like being apart of this order.

My Brother Jim and Jessa

It is the sibling grief club.

Required meetings tend to happen at the most awkward times and honestly, they can be brutal.

Like when I talking with someone who keeps going on and on about how much their brother or sister makes them crazy.

Or when I get a whiff of a man who wears Brut deodorant…

Or when I get a message that someone who I care about has recently lost a brother or sister…

Or when I wake up from dream about my dead brother that is so real that I could have sworn I had an actual conversation with him.

Or like today on my morning walk it hits me. A certain classic rock song came on my ipod and I remembered today would have been his birthday.

Immediately I walk right into this club I have designed in my mind and hold up my 11 year chip.

The Sibling Grief Club

I have often joked with friends that I could write a book on how to deal with sibling grief.

It is different than grieving the death of a parent. I know firsthand. I’ve lost all three members of my immediate family.

You expect parents to die. That is the natural order of things. But when a sibling dies it messes with you. Makes you feel like something in the universe is off.

When a sibling dies it like you get a big cosmic mirror shoved in front of your face and you realize for the first time that you can actually die too.

My Brother and my niece visiting the summer before he died at Garden of the Gods

Guilt When A Sibling Dies

You also deal with guilt. Crazy guilt. Guilt that is totally unreasonable, emotional and unsettling. Guilt that riddles your brain and heart with questions like…

Why her?

Why not me?

What could I have done or said differently to make our relationship better?

Does mom and dad ever wish I would have died instead?

Why am I so blessed with health and family and they are now gone?

Every birthday you have also becomes a reminder of one that they will not. This year, my upcoming birthday is significant concerning my sibiling grief because I will turn the same age as my brother was the year he died.

This is weird…

And heavy…

And beautiful all all at the same time.

Membership Has It’s Privileges

One of the benefits of being in the sibling grief club is I do not take my life for granted. I am very intentional with my children when it comes to their relationship with each other. As much as I can, I try to foster their friendship, and use teachable moments to show them how much the other should mean to them.

I also have a focused lense that I tend view life through.

I am fully aware that no one is promised tomorrow— that you must live life to the fullest, because even young healthy people die.

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

Some meetings at the sibling grief club are also longer than others. Today’s meeting for me didn’t last too long, but it was good for me to reluctantly walk in and catch up.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. ~Jesus Matthew 5:4 NLT

Due to my membership I also know I have instant credibility with others when the time comes for them to fill out their application into this fellowship. I hate it, but welcome it as well. It allows me to speak nothing at all, or when the time is right share words of comfort with them. It provides me with understanding and compassion.

And for that reason, I pray that God continues to give me the grace to be in this club.






  1. Oh, Julie…So sorry you belong to this club but grateful for what you’ve shared here so beautifully. Prayers from my heart to yours.

  2. Sharlette Abel says:

    Julie, I am so sorry that you have, at your young age, had to deal with such losses. I love you and my heart hurts for you. I pray that you continue walking close with the Lord and that He provides you the comfort and strength for the rest of your journey. I, for one, believe God has great plans for you to continue to be a blessing to many people. 🙂

  3. I have had this post up in my never-ending tab collection, but couldn’t bring myself to read it until now. There are times when thinking about your lost sibling brings sweet memories, and then there are the times you get slapped in the face, and you just can’t read what you know is going to force you to face the pain.

    Thank you for writing this. While my dad’s death was just as, if not more, unexpected than my brother’s, it really is not the same at all.

    I am so sorry for your losses, Julie, and I pray for both of us, as you said, “that God continues to give me the grace to be in this club.”

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