It’s been a few years since my sister Cindy passed away from cancer. I’m only now embracing the grief of missing her.

Missing her laugh, missing the nonsensical sharing of her day, missing her constant cheering me on, and how she “mothered” me with such care. Missing her calling me Shawnie-Bo-Bawnie. Missing calling her Cindy-Bo-Bindie.

Cindy was 18 months older than me and when we were little, people thought we were twins.

There’s something deeply devastating about losing your sister. There’s a part of your life that is shared, experienced and “knowing” with your sister that when she passes, alters.

It’s a loss that’s different and like no other. It’s like a part of your history (and identity?) is completely gone.

When my sister died on March 4th, 2018, my mom and dad were both battling cancer, too. My dad died first. I was then immersed in taking care of my dying mom.


It’s only in the last few months that I’ve allowed myself to feel this devastating loss.

I’ve also learned a few things about grief when losing a sister and wanted to share my precious learnings of love and loss.

-All-Encompassing Grief:
The loss is overwhelming. The loss of history and the loss of future memories. You’ll face a need to redefine your role in life without your sister. From sharing experiences like birthdays, holidays, and even joking about silly memories that carved your life together.

-Survivor Guilt:
Sisters protect each other. You may face feelings of guilt that you didn’t “protect” your sister, even though that wasn’t possible.

-Reflection on Mortality:
Your own mortality becomes a focus. When your sister dies, it’s natural to deeply look at your own life, your own choices, and other relationships. You start to get laser-focused on that life is not forever and you start to seek more joy and peace in your life.

And that’s certainly where I am today, immersed in a journey of love, loss, memories, joy, and missing my big sister. I love you, Cindy-Bo-Bindie.

If you’ve lost a sister, I’m deeply sorry for your precious loss.
Dr. Shawne

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Related Articles:
Dealing with Grief as a Bereaved Parent
Intimacy When Burying Your Mother

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