A SIBLING STORY: Finding A Way Through Grief
Cooper, now seven years old, participated in the Friends of Karen Sibling Support program with creative arts therapist Siobhan. Cooper’s mother Joan shared that Friends of Karen’s ongoing support has been helpful as they grieve the loss of Cooper’s older brother Astor. Astor passed away at age eight after being treated for Childhood Cerebral Adrenoleukodystrophy, a progressive neurodegenerative disorder. The family’s experience with Friends of Karen began when they were paired with social worker Rhonda and received emotional and financial support, as well as practical guidance. They also had end-of-life and bereavement support, including taking part in the parent’s Bereavement Support Group. Below, Siobhan and Cooper discuss the impact of the sibling support he received. Siobhan: What did you worry about when Astor was sick? Cooper: I was worried about him dying. <p>Siobhan: How did you help him when he was sick? Cooper: I helped my parents bring things to him. I would sometimes hold his hand and that calmed him down. He was scared because he couldn’t see or really hear anymore.
Siobhan: When you think about Astor, what is your favorite time with him that you remember?
Cooper: So many things! Being outside and playing with his dog Iris. I loved going to the park with Astor on his scooter. We would play zombie tag or freeze tag or hide and seek. We also liked doing puzzles together. Me, Astor and Daddy built a two story huge Lego building that took days to build!
Siobhan: What did you like to do best during the Sibling Support sessions?
Cooper: I really liked when we made picture frames and albums to hold memories of Astor. I liked the clay too, but mostly I like spending time with you.
Siobhan: How has talking with me helped when you are sad or feeling other big feelings?
Cooper: Because it’s been a long time I know you, that makes it easier to talk about and the art makes me feel better. You tell me anything I feel is ok.
Siobhan: What else helps?
Cooper: I listen to music that makes me think of him. When I make art I ask you to play “Willow Tree” (“You and me born from the same branch and leaves…./ But when you leave, the world is never what it seems.”) and “See You Again” (“It’s been a long day without you, my friend / And I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again”). He loved to eat, and he used to finish my bowls. When I miss him, I like to eat his favorite foods, like salmon with yummy soy sauce, and sushi and pizza.