“Death ends a life but not a relationship.”
—Robert W. Anderson, “I Never Sang for My Father”
I can’t imagine how my parents (or any parents) survived the premature death of my brother, their oldest son. To lose a child, experts say, is second only to the pain of losing an identical twin.
But what about the grief of a sibling who loses a sibling? Up until the last twenty years of so, the grief of siblings had been largely overlooked. But out of the approximately seventy-three thousand children who die in the United States each year, an estimated 83 percent leave a sibling survivor.
In 2012, twenty children were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut. The tragedy was the deadliest mass shooting in a grade school or high school in U.S. history. The victims left at least forty siblings behind.
Between 2002 and 2012, at least twenty-eight thousand children and teens ages nineteen years and younger were killed with guns. Teens between the ages of fifteen and nineteen made up over two-thirds of all youth gun deaths in the U.S.
And these startling numbers don’t include death from diseases like cancer, accidents and suicide.
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