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Broken Dreams - Surviving the loss of an adult sibling

Posted by VicKie D on 18 July 2017.

Coping with the loss of a sibling through drug and alcohol abuse is something I never expected to face. 
As a sibling, you feel that you have no right to grieve because your parents are facing their worst nightmare. You stand in the shadows of a family broken, not knowing how to reach out and help your parents. The feeling of helplessness and hopelessness engulfs you as you try and ease their pain.  Family and friends rally round, and you watch from the sidelines feeling lost and alone.  Trying to make sense of a situation that was thrust upon you through your sibling's addiction. Feeling angry, yet saddened.  You go through the motions, burying the pain inside, feeling guilty for being the 'surviving child'. Wondering if only you had done something different, supported them more, tried to help more, done something, anything! to have kept them alive.  And then there's the realization of everything you've lost while feeling selfish for thinking about yourself. Slowly the realisation that, you have no sibling to argue with, no one to look out for, to protect with a fierceness that comes with sibling love. The empty birthday and Christmases, the reunions, with a gaping hole that comes with the emptiness you feel inside. Forever wondering what might have been, what should have been. Never holding your nieces or nephews, not sharing their wedding day, or celebrating christenings and birthdays. Other's not understanding why it's hard to move on. Feeling alone in your grief stricken world. Facing the reality that there will be no more phone calls, never again waiting to hear the gate 'clink' at three in the morning.
You move through the cycles of grief, anger, hurt, frustration, loss and then finally acceptance. Accepting that, your sibling didn't want to be addicted. Watching the strength of your parents, as they too begin to cope day by day with the loss of their child, and becomming stronger and more resilient than you ever thought you could be. Finally being able to chat and smile about the memories of a happy childhood shared with your first friend and ally.
For me, acceptance came with the need to help others. Sharing a story that is personal, yet repeated in families all over the world.  Acceptance came with the desire to reach out to other siblings, to hold their hand on a journey of grief, letting other's know, they are NOT alone!


20 Jul 2017

I'm the only surviving child out of 3. My brother lost his life in February after a lifetime battle with alcohol. It has been horrendous. After years of watching my brother destroy himself and taking us all with him to that dark dark place this is how it ends. Seeing my parents so utterly broken and having a very young family of my own is crippling me. I know the loneliness it brings. It's a terrible disease that wrecks not just the addict but an entire family and affects generations for years to come. More needs to be done to educate people about the dangers of alcohol and the government need to make changes in how to treat alcoholics and provide better support.

1 Aug 2017

Hi Vickie D and Doris1

Thank you both for sharing your stories on our blog, we are very sorry to hear of your loss.  

We have made a website for people that have been bereaved through alcohol and drugs that provides information, advice and guidance:

It also includes a personal testimonies page:

If you were interested in sharing your story on this page, please get in touch with us at 

Best wishes,

Icarus Trust
14 Aug 2017

Thank you both for sharing your very moving stories. If either of you or any of your families think it would help please contact The Icarus trust. We are a charity that supports the family and friends of addicts. 
You can contact us on or visit the website
All the very best you you both and your families.

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