Siblings' Needs and Issues When a Brother or Sister Dies of Cancer

Department of Pediatric Oncology, Queen Silvia Children's Hospital, SE-416 85 Göteborg, Sweden.
Journal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing (Impact Factor: 0.9). 07/2005; 22(4):227-33. DOI: 10.1177/1043454205274722
Source: PubMed


To explore siblings'needs and issues when a brother or sister dies of cancer, interviews were conducted with 10 surviving children and young adults. The siblings expressed dissatisfaction with the information they had received and said that they had not felt involved in the dying process with the exception of the terminal period. The siblings stated that their dissatisfaction would have been reduced if doctors and nurses had provided continuous information and support. Loneliness, anxiety, anger, and jealousy were common feelings that they expressed. Friends and school were important to the siblings, representing a normal environment free from the domination of sickness. The siblings also expressed that they needed to mourn in their own way including periods of time when they did not mourn. The absence of the dead sibling was felt particularly during family celebrations. The siblings continued to have special memories and objects, and all still included the dead sibling as a member in the family.

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    • "This could indicate a common mechanism by which the stress of having an ''absent'' (e.g., ill or grieving) mother uniquely affects the social well-being of boys, or it may reflect a gender difference in soliciting social support from peers in response to stress. For example, the peer group can be a safe haven for bereaved children (Fleming & Balmer, 1996; Nolbris & Helstrom, 2005), particularly for girls who may be more likely to share their feelings and elicit sympathy from others. "
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    ABSTRACT: To compare peer relationships among bereaved siblings and matched classmates, and to examine gender, grade level, and time since death as moderators. Families were recruited from cancer registries at four hospitals 3-12 months after a child's death. Measures of social behavior and peer acceptance were completed by children in the classrooms of 105 bereaved siblings (ages 8-17 years). Teachers also reported on children's social behavior. Three classmates were matched for gender, race, and age to each bereaved sibling to form a comparison group (n = 311). Teachers reported bereaved siblings were more prosocial than comparison classmates. Peers perceived bereaved boys as more sensitive-isolated and victimized, while bereaved siblings in elementary grades were perceived by peers as less prosocial, more sensitive-isolated, less accepted, and as having fewer friends. Peers and teachers viewed bereaved siblings in middle/high school grades as higher on leadership-popularity. Bereaved siblings who were male and in elementary grades were more vulnerable to social difficulties, while those in middle/high school may exhibit some strengths. Ongoing research to inform the development of interventions for bereaved siblings is warranted.
    Journal of Pediatric Psychology 09/2011; 37(2):209-19. DOI:10.1093/jpepsy/jsr082 · 2.91 Impact Factor
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    • "Adolescents who say that have good communication with their parents also score higher on self-esteem, happiness, and overall life satisfaction scales (Thastum et al., 2008). Nolbris and Hellstrum (2005) studied the experiences of well siblings of children with a cancer diagnosis. When asked about visiting the sibling in the hospital, many well siblings reported that they did not feel that the hospital staff thought they were important. "
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