Find out how to helping your child deal with the loss of a sibling.

Sibling bereavement is a natural reaction to the death of a brother or sister. If your child has lost a sibling, they’ll need time to cope and their grief can take many forms. As a parent, you can help your child by taking them to a support group, offering them reading materials, and taking advantage of services like those offered through UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

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Supportive Care Program at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh

Children with life-threatening illnesses and their families can benefit from the hospital’s Supportive Care Program, which offers sibling grief services including:

  • A monthly support group
  • Programs on how to handle the holidays
  • Family activities such as a visit to the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium and a day at a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game
  • A summer camp created for children coping with the death of a sibling

When you contact the program, you’ll be assigned a coordinator who will work one-on-one with your family.

Carol May, manager of the Supportive Care Program, says attending a support group can help parents and children cope with loss: “It allows siblings to be with children of similar ages. They see that other children are getting through this, and they can too,” she says. “When families come, they recognize that they aren’t the only family going through this.”

UPMC Children’s has compiled a list of local support groups for parents and siblings in the Pittsburgh area who are dealing with loss.

Sibling Bereavement Summer Camp

The Supportive Care Program’s annual summer camp, Camp Wakchazi, is for children between the ages of 7 and 17 who’ve lost a sibling. Camp peer counselors are 18 to 23 years of age and are bereaved siblings as well.

Camp coordinator Melanie Szigethy says Camp Wakchazi offers an important outlet for grieving siblings. “The camp gives children and peer counselors an opportunity to honor and recognize their siblings in a safe space with other bereaved siblings,” she says. “They get to talk about, think about, and have feelings about the death of their brother or sister and see that they’re not the only ones going through this.”

Choosing Supportive Care for Sibling Bereavement

Parents are free to choose the Supportive Care Program services they feel are best for their children. Bereavement coordinator Lori Malazich says families sometimes decide to seek their own resources and means of support.

For more information on sibling bereavement support and coping with the loss of a child, visit the Supportive Care Program at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh or call 412-692-3234.

About Pediatrics

From nutrition to illnesses, from athletics to school, children will face many challenges growing up. Parents often will make important health care decisions for them. We hope to help guide both of you in that journey. UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh is a national leader in pediatric care, ranking consistently on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals Honor Roll. We provide expert treatment for pediatric diseases, along well-child visits, urgent care, and more. With locations across Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia, you can find world-class care close to home. We also work closely with UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, a national leader in care for newborns and their mothers. Our goal is to provide the best care for your children, from birth to adulthood and beyond. Visit our website to find a doctor near you.