Thursday, 12 November 2009


I pulled this off a charity called Sib's website. It's a bit simplistic, and I think it absolves the guilt all too easily. But, it's the first time I have ever touched upon sharing feelings of guilt about Tom beyond brief, very brief, conversations with my brother Will. Our family just didn't talk about all this stuff, it was just about Tom is This, get on with it. Weirdly, I feel guilty just writing this, I feel guilty about feeling guilty about Tom. Christ the human mind is inefficient sometimes....

Dealing with guilt

Guilt is self-reproach for supposed inadequacy or wrongdoing; another definition is self directed anger or blame. For many adult siblings, guilt eats into their ability to enjoy themselves and get on with their lives. The type of quilt experienced by siblings is usually in relation to something they feel they ought to do or feel about their brother or sister. It is absolutely normal for siblings of disabled people to have feelings of guilt.
Some of the things siblings feel guilty about:
  • Not having the disability or illness when their brother or sister has (survivor’s guilt)
  • That they can do things in life that their brother or sister will never be able to do
  • That they have had uncaring thoughts about their brother or sister
  • That they haven’t visited, or spent time with their brother or sister as much as they feel they should
  • That they wish they didn’t have a disabled brother or sister
  • That they have felt jealous of the amount of time a parent has spent with a brother or sister
  • That they have resented the impact of their brother or sisters disability on their lives

Acknowledge the feeling for what it is

Take action

The feeling of guilt may be telling you that there is something you need to take some action on. The type of action you take will depend on the circumstances. For example, you may feel better if you simply make a decision to visit your sister twice times a month, rather than feeling that you should go every week but don’t actually do it. Put the dates in your diary.
Is there something you have been putting off and just need to go and do it?

'I have been intending to find a befriender for my brother for the last year and I’ve done nothing about it except feel guilty that he has no friends. I will spend 30 minutes on the internet on Wednesday night getting contact numbers for local services.'

Reframe how you view things

How can you think about this experience in a positive way?

'I used to feel guilty about being able to go skiing. Now I go and enjoy it and know that when I come back I will feel refreshed and energized and that my good mood will be good for people who are around me, including my disabled sister.Taking time to do things I enjoy will be better for everyone.'
'My brother would hate this; he wouldn’t like all the people and the noise. It’s a very good thing that he’s not here.'
Forgive yourself for things that are in the past and accept those things that simply can’t be changed. Just let go of things that you really don’t have any ability to change.

'I used to pretend that I didn’t have a brother and never mentioned him at school. I felt bad about this for years. That’s what I needed to do as a child. I don’t need to do it anymore. I don’t need to feel guilty about this. It’s just a way for a child to cope.'

No comments: