Despite the rise of clinical interest in posttraumatic stress disorder and traumatic stress in children, there has been little attention paid to the impact of sibling death as a traumatic event. Although there is much evidence that children suffer long-lasting consequences of such trauma as divorce or the loss of a parent, the loss of a sibling has not been the topic of substantial clinical or research attention. The sibling relationship has only begun to receive research and theoretical attention. The complexities of the sibling bond as it changes and evolves over the life-span have only begun to be explored.
The death of a child has generally been considered one of the most stressful events encountered by families in our society. The chronicity of illnesses such as cystic fibrosis is in a sense new, an outgrowth of recent advances in medical treatment which have considerably extended the lives of children stricken with leukemia, cystic fibrosis, HIV-infection, diabetes, and others. This book explores the long-term consequences of chronic illness followed by the death of a sibling on adult adjustment. The illness and loss of the child will have a direct impact on the siblings, dependent upon their own capacity to give meaning to its occurrence and to mourn the loss effectively. In addition, the sibling's world will be inexorably shaped by the handling of the illness and loss by the parents.