Forgotten Mourners: After the death of a brother or sister, friends and family members might not realize the siblings’ grief, say four who know

Summary: Some days, Hannah Wilford sobbed uncontrollably. Other days, the teenager seethed with anger. She was angry at the driver of the car that struck and killed Aaron, her 15-year-old brother. She was mad at her parents.
For nearly two years, she ignored her mother’s pleas to talk, and secluded herself in her bedroom after school. Some days, she gossiped with friends on her phone, pretending that nothing was awry in her Carrollton home. Hannah’s is one of four stories of bereaved siblings in my 1999 piece in The Dallas Morning News.

To read this article, published on July 25, 1999, please visit The Dallas Morning News archives.

Reaction: This, along with a personal essay on sibling grief, was picked up by newspapers around the country in 1999 and drew heavy reader reaction.

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3 Responses to Forgotten Mourners: After the death of a brother or sister, friends and family members might not realize the siblings’ grief, say four who know

  1. janine says:

    hi, I would be interested to read any articles on the loss of a sibling. I lost my beloved younger brother 9 weeks ago..its yomtov now ..and I am so sad..

  2. Amy L. Collins says:

    My older brother Peter, died unexpectedly at age 39, 4 days before Christmas and 2 months before his 40th birthday. The surprise 40th party I had planned obviously never came to fruition. Fast forward 3.5 years and I was approaching my milestone 40th birthday. Leading up to it, everyone wanted to know what I was going to do to celebrate making it 40 years and that it is a “big deal.”. Well all I could think of was my brother Peter and how he didn’t make it and how for the first time in our lives I would be older than my older brother. Then I remembered, just like my 3 previous birthdays, how I would not here Happy Birthday sung to me in its entirety in that ridiculous voice that was his impression of me at the stroke of midnight on my birthday. See we had this thing…that we had to be the first ones to say Happy Birthday to each other on our birthdays. Every year…no matter what. Then, I felt such incredible guilt at the fact that I made it to 40 but he didn’t and then incredible sadness for the very same reason. At the time it was happening to me it was very hard to articulate to others what I was feeling and that it had nothing really to do with turning 40. So I cried and cried the night before my birthday and I cried and cried at midnight when my phone did not ring as I knew it wouldn’t. Then, despite my protests, he did it. Just the way he always used to. Via my memories, he slapped the tiniest little smile on my face and I knew it was ok to smile, for I had made it!

  3. Linda says:

    Dear Amy,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I did indeed write an essay on this very topic because I was nearing 40. I struggled the most with turning 23 – the same age my brother was when he died. Experts would call my struggle an anniversary-type reaction.

    I’m glad you have these wonderful memories. Memories definitely help. They don’t take away the pain, but they do soften it, I think. Wishing you all the best,

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