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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/19153

Title: Silent Grief: Narratives of Bereaved Adult Siblings
Authors: Marshall, Brenda J.
Advisor: Knowles, J. Gary
Department: Adult Education and Counselling Psychology
Keywords: Bereavement
Issue Date: 25-Feb-2010
Abstract: This qualitative research project is a narrative inquiry into the lives of four bereaved siblings; one is myself. The purpose of the project was to explore our mutual experiences of loss, look for patterns, and create a forum for continuing our stories in a new way. Identified as a disenfranchised loss (Wray, 2003) adult siblings are often seen as the least impacted family member when a sibling dies. After such a death, the concern is first directed toward the grieving spouse and children and then the deceased’s parents. Adult siblings are often expected to be a source of strength and support for others. Through in-depth interviews and story telling, three participants shared their reflections of, first, living with and, then, living without beloved siblings. Their stories of loss and love are captured both with words and visually through photographs. My stories are woven throughout the text as I reflect upon my grief journey and ongoing search for meaning. Findings of this research offer a glimpse into the profound depth of this loss and some of the unique challenges faced by bereaved adult siblings. All participants experienced strained dynamics within families of origin as members grieved the loss differently. Elderly parents, in particular, were hesitant to speak of their deceased child, setting a tone of silence within the family. To help “protect” parents from further grief, participants gradually stopped talking about deceased siblings in their presence. Relationships with surviving siblings were also strained as roles were reformed. For the three women participants, passing years did not lessen the emptiness of the loss. The pain was rekindled with each passing family milestone. All of us were changed by this experience. Sharing stories with an interested listener created another avenue for meaning making and a new way to honour and memorialize our lost siblings. Each of us moved to new understandings about ourselves and our relationships with our deceased siblings, naming the experience as transformative on many levels. Hopefully this study will serve as support for other grieving adult siblings and contribute to furthering research in grief and bereavement.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/19153
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Department of Adult Education and Counselling Psychology - Doctoral theses

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