Date of Conferral







Cheryl Tyler-Balkcom


The purpose of the study is to fill the gap in the literature regarding sibling bereavement. This study explored how sibling bereavement from unnatural causes of death affects surviving siblings. Bereavement affects millions of Americans every year. Most grieve naturally, but some experience complicated grief or depression. Many studies address parental and spousal bereavement, but few focus on sibling bereavement. This study fills that gap in the literature so that mental health care professionals and the general public understand what bereaved siblings experience after the death of a sibling. The study was a phenomenological study using social constructivism as a theoretical lens to explore how sibling bereavement affects surviving siblings. Open-ended interviews were collected from 10 bereaved siblings. Those interviews were then transcribed and categorized using a 7 step process to review and organize all relevant statements. Results of this study shows that sibling bereavement can be a life changing event for surviving siblings affecting all aspects of life and leaving unanswered questions and feelings of guilt. Participants also state they felt overlooked after the death leading to delayed grief. Participants concluded that sibling grief is subjective, so any treatment plan should be catered to the individual based on their relationship to the deceased sibling and the role the sibling played. This study can bring about positive social change by helping mental health care workers understand sibling bereavement better so that they may help those suffering from complicated grief following the loss of a sibling.