Injury and illness affects the whole family. Normal routines go out the window. Doctor and hospitals replace friends and family. Every member of the family feels the impact. In families with multiple children, siblings of ill or injured child might feel confused, upset, afraid, numb or worried. They need time to adjust to their brother or sister’s medical needs and treatment. Most react in very positive ways, with love, caring, and support. They often describe feeling glad they are able to help out at home and to support their sibling.
However some will also have trouble adjusting to this new and challenging situation. Some things that may happen with siblings:
1. They miss you and their brother or sister
2. They only partly understand the situation
3. They want to help out, but aren’t sure how
4. They feel angry, jealous, or guilty and aren’t sure if that is OK
To help parents and siblings cope, newly developed tipsheets are now available in both English and Spanish. The parent tipsheet, "What About Siblings? Helping My Family Cope" (¿Qué hay de los hermanos?: Cómo ayudar a mi familia a afrontar la situación) helps parents understand what their other children may be feeling and provides 10 tips to help them cope. The sibling tipsheet, "After the Injury or Illness: Tips for Siblings" (Después de la lesión o enfermedad: Consejos para hermanos), follows the story of Rosa and how she helps herself cope during her brother's hospitalizations. These tipsheets, plus many more, are all available to download in on the Patient Education Materials page.
How do you help siblings cope when their brother/sister is in the hospital?