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Beyond Sibling Rivalry

Have you ever felt like you or a sibling were from a different family (or planet)? Sibling conflict and estrangement is more common that you realize, and while it may be the healthiest choice for you to get some serious space, it can be painful new reality to navigate.

Some articles on the topic of sibling conflict and estrangement.

Excerpt from Psychology Today

There definitely seems to be consequences of estrangement psychologically (see ambiguous loss), but maybe the consequence is the stigma. Cutting off contact with a family member might be most painful because of the way society misunderstands and attaches shame to it. People who already feel isolated from their families shouldn’t be made to feel even more alienated over their situation – whether it was one over which they had little control, or a decision unlikely to have been reached lightly. The stigma also makes it hard to know exactly how many people are estranged from a family member, especially in cultures where it’s socially unacceptable to discuss family conflict openly.

If you’re experiencing ambiguous loss, here are some suggestions for dealing with the grief, stress and sadness that can accompany it.

1. Name what you’re going through

The kind of ambiguous loss brought on by the pandemic, for example, can be a sneaky kind of loss. You might not even recognize your grief for what it is — but now you have a name for it. Sometimes, just being able to put a label on what you’re experiencing can help you begin healing.

2. Work toward acceptance

Acceptance isn’t the same as closure. But in the absence of closure, it’s important to try to make peace with this new reality.

3. Reach out for support

Depending on the circumstances of your loss, other people in your life might not realize that you’re struggling, which can be especially isolating. Identifying and connecting with a close friend can help support you.

4. Look for silver linings

Without veering into toxic positivity territory, try seeing some of the good within the bad.

5. Get involved in a cause

Some people cope with loss through action, like joining organizations focused on different issues that have personal meaning. And if you choose to get involved with another person or organization that allows you to give back in the way your sibling may reject, you can refill that cup.

6. Be kind to yourself Try giving yourself grace and gentleness as you work through your grief. Be kind to yourself when you’re struggling with difficult emotions, the same way you would provide compassion to someone else if they were experiencing what you are.


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