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Losing a sibling/family member?

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#1 BryanMiranda


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Posted 27 October 2013 - 06:56 PM

I know it's a touchy subject. I have a character that lost her brother in an accident, and the book is set two years afterwards and she's still coping. I'm wondering if that's too much time, and thought about making bringing it down to just one year afterwards. I've never had a close family member die so I can't really imagine how long it would take.


Any information is appreciated. Thanks in advance.

#2 Andrew Nelson

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 07:31 PM



Good question, but completely subjective. I don't think you can set a time because everyone is different. Two years is the blink of an eye for some folks. I don't think it is an unreasonable amount of time for siblings at all. 

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#3 Charlee Vale

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 07:53 PM

Uh, no, that's not unreasonable in the slightest. 


Andrew is right, grief is subjective, but two years is fine. Especially if your character isn't dealing with it.



"My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears. And true plain hearts do in the faces rest. Where can we find two better hemispheres? Without sharpe North, without declining west. Whatever dies was not mix'd equally. If our two loves be one and thou and I love so alike, that none can slacken, none can die." --John Donne

#4 Yvette



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Posted 27 October 2013 - 09:04 PM

If your character hasn't come to grips, had a chance to grieve properly, hasn't been given space to do so...gosh, there are SO many variables...two years is *nothing*. I was just reflecting that next month is four years since a dear friend passed away suddenly. *That* seems like the blink of an eye.

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#5 AliceJ


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Posted 29 October 2013 - 02:36 PM

As a mom who lost her four-year-old son to cancer treatments, I see more and more that many do not understand grief and loss at all.  My daughter was six when her brother died, and to this day misses him, as we all do.  I do a lot of work with bereaved parents and siblings and two years is no time at all.  Key things to note are the relationship your character had with his deceased sibling.  A loss is a loss is loss is not true.  I know some who lose parents and are not as affected---over time----as other losses they experience. 

#6 Lanette Kauten

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 03:20 PM

A year into my first marriage, my brother-in-law committed suicide. My (then) husband and I were still deeply grieving a year later. By the second year, we were finally coping. Naturally, it took him longer to cope, and in some ways he never completely got over it. As an aside, and this may not have anything to do with your story but could be used to add depth, our son was born nine years later, and he looked very much like his deceased uncle. Because of the strong resemblance, his father became resentful of him.

#7 Observant


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Posted 29 October 2013 - 06:11 PM

It feels like you are watching a movie of your life. There are times when my chest gets very tight and breathing becomes physically strenuous. I feel like I'm floating sometimes and the denial will settle in for a time. Especially if the remains didn't look like your loved one. There's a big denial. Many, myself included find themselves looking for their deceased relative in the faces of others passing by. It comes in waves that they are actually gone. You may even go "backwards " to address your concern of two years being too long.Absolutely not too long at all. Your heart does physically ache and depending on how close your main character was to their sibling,, they could very well experience an identity crisis.

#8 mwsinclair


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Posted 30 October 2013 - 04:39 PM

For what it's worth, when my girls were born almost five years ago, my aunt stayed with us for several days to help out, and I gained much better insight to the effect of her mother's death when she was very young. It affected her older sister (my mother) deeply as she became my aunt's primary female caregiver and the family rarely ever spoke about the missing parent. Decades after her father's death, she still resented that he had rarely spoken of his late wife. This stuff can last a lifetime.

#9 BryanMiranda


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Posted 08 November 2013 - 12:43 PM

Thank you very much, everybody. I'm confident now that my approach was well done, if maybe just a little bit lacking in explaining how close they were.

#10 Jean Oram

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Posted 21 November 2013 - 03:02 PM

Your character might also experience mood swings, sleep issues, anger flashes, impatience, crying, lethargy, hopelessness, disinterest in things they love, weight loss, inability to remember or focus on things, etc., when in the midst of heavy grief. They may have days and weeks where they are fine and then suddenly dip into a depression of sorts where they upset easily.


It's a pervasive sadness you can't run from.

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