For several families in my study, the death of the sibling meant that the secret was revealed and defenses could be dropped. As one young woman explained, her parents became much more open with their feelings follow ing the death. She felt it was only then that the barrier finally came down, and her parents were able to talk about how their experiences with the sick child had affected their treatment of their other children. "It was like the dam broke. The whole family just sort of opened up and went, 'Oh, you felt like that too?"' Generally, however, communication patterns that had been in place for years during the illness period persisted. Whatever dynamic had been in place throughout the sick child's life tended to remain static or, if there was a change, became heightened. If family life was difficult before the death, it was further tom apart by the final crisis. Rick lamented that the death of his sister permanently altered the whole structure of family life, and it was not positive.