In American society we suffer from long-standing patterns of anxiety and denial about death. Perhaps as a result, in our grief and mourning processes, we’ve learned to cope with our powerful reactions with self-control and “strength.” It seems we are socially conditioned to be stoic, to “move on,” “get back to work,” “be strong.” These habits severely limit our freedom to grieve naturally and openly for any loved one we’ve lost.
Thankfully, however, our culture does seem to offer some limited recognition of the multiple consequences of losing certain family members, particularly a spouse or child.
Yet sibling loss—whether suffered early in life or adulthood remains an almost totally unrecognized reality. Support groups and other grief recovery services are practically non-existent.
Such blatant disregard both exemplifies and reinforces our society’s persistent false belief that siblings are mere background figures in our adult lives, people to whom we may still feel loyalty and affection, but rarely a strong, meaningful, continuing connection.
As a result of these attitudes, survivors of sibling loss report many long-term effects for which they often seek treatment decades later. Difficulties with intimacy, dependency, and self-esteem are frequently seen.
For those who do seek treatment, group work can be especially effective.
At the Center, the primary goal for our sibling loss group is the recognition and expression of the unique range and depth of sibling loss grief reactions along with processing and understanding these reactions. Our second goal is to provide concepts and intellectual knowledge to help manage intense emotions. And our third goal is to help group members structure their expression of feelings so that they keep from overburdening their families and friends.
In addition, the group plays an important social role. Members/peers become a kind of surrogate family to each other through providing understanding and support. In fact, members often report not feeling alone and different for the first time. Finally, the cost for group is minimal compared to individual therapy.
The sibling loss group is facilitated by Paul Martin, PsyD. (See Paul’s bio info by clicking on the “our therapists” link on the homepage.) By providing structure and leadership, Paul creates a safe place for our goals to be met empathically and effectively. As with all of the Center’s groups, the process begins with an individual interview during which the group’s goals are explained, expectations and concerns are discussed, and a positive tone is set for the group experience to begin.
The Center’s sibling loss group will run for 6 consecutive weeks, during a weekday (to be determined) from 2-3:30 pm. The fee is $45.00 per session. Private insurance is accepted. Scholarships are available for those in need.
Visit us at: www.griefcounselor.org