Anyone who is a parent to siblings will know that it is so important to try and make sure that they have a good relationship. Regardless of whether this relationship is often built upon bickering, teasing and stealing each others things. But how is that relationship impacted after the one person who is their whole world dies?
This is something that we have had to adjust and adapt to over the past three years. Our nieces and nephew lived with their Mummy together before her death, with Big Niece regularly spending time with her Daddy. So they have always been used to that slight separation. But not long after their Mummy died, Big Niece went to live with her Daddy and Niece and Nephew moved in with us at Jade’s family’s home. They were going through so much change in such a short period of time it was easy to forget how much being separated might affect them. Everyone always focuses on the main trauma of losing a parent, but there are so many other things that happen as a result of that bereavement that also have an impact.
So how do we all ensure that all three children to have quality time together, like they used to before their Mummy died? Luckily, they continued to attend the same school and really value that time together. When their Mummy died they were just starting year two, year one and reception. The school they attend separates the infants and the juniors so they were all together in the same part of the school. We can’t be sure but we really do think that the fact that they were all together really helped the school to provide them with the support they needed. They would also walk to and from school together (and still do most of the time) with either their Uncle Adam or their Grandad. We think this was probably really helpful to them as it kept some continuity from before their Mummy died.
They would also (and still do) spend a few nights a week after school having tea at their Grandparents. This again ensures that they have some of the familiarity of things that happened prior to their Mummy’s death. It’s also really important for them to spend time with their maternal family without us there with them. We value the time they spend with their sister and grandparents, and we are sure that they do too. They also spend time separately at their grandparents, which is just as invaluable.
As often as possible, we also love to have Big Niece over to our house for a sleepover and a play. When buying Niece and Nephew’s bunk beds, our number one priority was that it had a third pull out bed for Big Niece. Although they always want to sleep on the floor! It’s so lovely for us, but particularly Adam, to spend time with all three children. We’ve said it once and we will say it again… it is just so heartwarming to see their Mummy shine through them. It’s funny how different aspects of her personality are within each of her children in different ways.
We are extremely lucky to have a brilliant relationship with Niece’s Daddy and his partner. We always try to support each other and really do work hard to put those children at the centre of our lives. We know without a doubt that if we needed their help that we would be able to ask and visa versa.
All three children also get to spend time together with their Mummy’s friends. Only her true friends continued to place an importance on seeing her children in the years following her death. This is something we will always be grateful for. It’s so beneficial for all three of them to have that relationship with their Mummy’s friends as they have so many brilliant memories and stories to share with them. Memories and stories that we don’t have ourselves. Memories and stories that we are sure they will find hilarious in their teenage years.
Spending time together means so much to them and you can really tell that they cherish it. We can only assume that a main factor of this is that it connects them to their Mummy. It provides them with a link to the life they had together before their Mummy died. Their bond as siblings has undoubtedly become stronger over the past few years and we are sure that they have provided each other with crucial support. Those three children have been though the most unbearable loss and only they can understand and empathise with each other. Their close relationship is going to be invaluable throughout their lives and this is why we place such an importance on keeping it strong.
Despite Big Niece being their half-sister biologically, this is something we never refer to her as. She is their sister. They are a team. A team that has been brought even closer together despite experiencing a significant trauma which has meant they now live apart.