chapter  7
The Next Year
Pages 11

As difficult as the illness and death of a sibling may be, one might expect the period that followed to be one of relief or even recovery. However, the siblings I interviewed reported that they found the weeks and months following the death of their brother or sister fraught with difficulties. Van der Kolk (1987) pointed out that an individual remains fixated on a trau­ matic event until it is integrated into his or her experience. Traumatic memories, unable to be avoided, return in various forms, including reen­ actments and nightmares. He explained that the nature of the trauma, overwhelming as it is to the ego, makes psychological integration difficult; dissociative processes are mobilized as defenses against severe stress. Finally, he pointed out that these individuals have difficulty warding off feelings of anxiety and aggression.