Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Brothers and sisters-Death-Psychological aspects, Children and death, Children-Death-Psychological aspects, Bereavement-Psychological aspects, Sibling, Bereavement, Grief, Continuing bonds


This exploratory qualitative study was undertaken to determine if there are perceived long-term effects on adults who lost a sibling in childhood to death. Secondly, are the long-term effects of this loss expressed in the form of continuing bonds, or making meaning from the loss of a loved one? Continuing bonds can take different forms, from keeping pictures or mementoes of the deceased, to telling stories to the generations that follow. Seven participants were recruited using snowball sampling. They ranged in age from 41-69, and the death of their sibling occurred 29-63 years ago. Each participant responded to open-ended questions that were asked about the memories they had about their sibling loss. Questions were asked about the long-term effects they believed were a result of their loss, including an impact on their creative, spiritual and professional life. They were also asked if they felt a continuing bond with their deceased sibling, and how that manifested. All the participants felt that there were long-term effects to sibling loss in childhood. They also reported having some kind of continuing bond with their deceased sibling that they felt to the present day. While the long-term effects were not necessarily in all the areas of creativity, spirituality and profession, most of the participants cited at least one of these domains. They also reported that there were some more negative longterm outcomes to the loss of their sibling, among them anxiety for their own children, and an inability to mourn losses in a healthy manner.




iii, 98 p. : col. ill. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2010. Includes bibliographical references (p. 85-87)