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Experiences and Coping of Adults with Death of Siblings during Childhood in Chinese Context: Implications for Therapeutic Interventions

Authors: Sze Yee Lee


The death of a sibling in childhood leads to significant impacts on both personal and family development of the surviving siblings, however, both short-term and long-term effects of sibling loss in Chinese societies such as Hong Kong have been inadequately documented in the literature. This paper explores the experience of encountering siblings’ death during childhood with the use of semi-structured interviews. Through thematic analysis, the author explores the impacts on surviving siblings’ emotions, coping styles, struggles and challenges and personal development. Furthermore, the influences on family dynamics are explored thoroughly, including the changes in family atmosphere, family roles, family relationship, family communication and parenting styles. More importantly, the author identifies (i) existing continuing bonds; (ii) crying; (iii) adequate social support; (iv) hiding own emotions as a gesture of protecting parents as the crucial elements pertinent to surviving siblings’ successful adaptation in the face of sibling loss. In addition, “child-centered” and “family-centered” service implications of families with a sibling's death in a Chinese context are discussed.

Keywords: Surviving children, sibling’s death, child-centered, family-centered.

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