Children deal with sibling death 'in positive and negative ways'

17 November 2011

Children experience differing changes a year after the death of a sibling through cancer, a new study has revealed.

Researchers have found that the majority of youngsters experience personal, emotional and relationship changes one year after the death of a brother or sister.

The Nationwide Children's Hospital looked at mortality rates and found that in the past ten years nearly 60,000 children under the age of 20 died each year in the US and Canada, leaving behind an estimated 480,000 siblings.

Perspectives from mothers, fathers and siblings were analysed to find that positive and negative changes in behaviour are not universal, but showed an indicator of the frequency that changes occur - the most common alteration being an accelerated rate of maturity and motivation.

Dr Cynthia Gerhardt, with the Ohio State University College of Medicine, said: "Our findings suggest that the assessment of sibling grief responses should involve direct communication not only with parents, but also with siblings."

She added that the differing attitude changes signify the process of grief.

According to BBC Health, guilt and anger sometimes not only affect the bereaved, but those closest to them and losing a child can strain even the strongest relationships.

Posted by Jeanette Royston

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