Can You Reconcile Siblings Before Death Stops the Clock?

Do you have aging parents , aunts’ uncles who don’t speak each other? Are you forced  to ignore one side of the family over age-old vendetta that you don’t really understand . There’s hope.  Elderly siblings have a unique opportunity to reconcile in later life. What’s later life- post 85- the fastest growing demographic in the US. We can even add in 75 and above.

Reconciliation among old/ old siblings can lead to a more realistic view of the past . It can end cut off- not talking to a sibling- for up to years at a time.  Resolution of old gouges can  stop  never ended cycling of sibling “ I hate you stories” that are passed on from one generation to another. A cessation of blood wars can allow younger family member to give a collective sigh  of relief and attend family rituals together again.

Why reconcile  in old age ? What do you get over? How do you do it?

Why- because sibling relationships are the ONLY relationships that last a whole lifetime from early childhood to old age.  Reconciliation brings back who knows you longer than your kids your spouse or anyone on the planet

What do you get over? Reconnecting can bring back the sibling who  shared the same nest . Siblings experience  the  same developmental stage childhood- at the same time with no choice. Old age is a time to address those wounds before the clock stakes midnight and then is passed onto the next generation.

Here is a list of some treacherous pattern of sibling difficulty that might be resolved in old age

  1. An traumatic external event like the death of parents that forces siblings apart
  2. Roles  or playing favorites in families like the boy get the most or the oldest or the handicapped child or the perennial favorite the youngest
  3. Sibling Rivalry
  4. Rules  in family that are silent that either enforce those roles or protect the parent, like the parent is a drug uses and none of us talk about that, or a child is mentally disturbed but protected and that is not openly discussed
  5. Circumstances- for example we are all very poor so hand me downs are all we have but the second and third children resent the oldest sibling for getting the only new clothes
  6. A traumatic internal event like sibling molestation.

How do you do this as an adult child .What are some answers to resolving ancient childhood wounds in the old/ old. One is reminiscence or life review when a family member helps an older person to tell their life story. This can heal old wounds of early childhood with the effects of helping to adjust to old age . During reminiscence older people analyze, evaluate and reinterpret their lives in relationship to preset events  and vales . Siblings reminiscing in old age can look at early childhood wounds and see them in the context of he here and now .

As siblings  face death  it is sometimes easier to let go of old hurts ,resolve them and actually see that elderly sibling again be with a person who knows just about everything you know bookend to bookend of your life. .

About momlovesyoubest

Cathy Cress holds an MSW in Aging from U.C. Berkeley. Her new book Mom Loves You Best, Forgiving and Forging Sibling Relationships , New Horizon Press, was published October 2010. Cress’s book , Handbook of Geriatric Care Management, Jones and Bartlett, is the bible of geriatric care management and is out out in a third edition in February 2011 .Her book Care Managers, Working With the Aging Family, Jones and Bartlett,2008 is one of the few major books on the aging family. Ms. Cress is the founder of GCM Consult ,working with small and national who want to add or launch GCM businesses. She is on the faculty at the University of Florida in their on line master’s in geriatric care management -GCM . She has taught geriatric care management at San Francisco State University , UC Berkeley and teaches at Cabrillo College and San Mateo College. She was founder and director of Cresscare, a GCM business, for 25 years.
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2 Responses to Can You Reconcile Siblings Before Death Stops the Clock?

  1. Stephanie Germack says:

    I’m interested in hearing comments. Three of my sisters cheated me out of about $100,000 and any part of my mother’s possessions before and following her passing. I’ve made numerous attempts to communicate with them, to try to forgive them, and to learn why they did what they did. They’ve ignored me for about 11 years. They were always the aggressors.

  2. Janet says:

    I am the youngest of 3 sisters. I am 10 years from the youngest of them and have always been considered the spoiled one. My life growing up was a little different than theirs but i didn’t have it easy. I was always there for my Mom and did a lot for her. When she died, everyone turned against me and did some shady things with the property that really hurt me. They also bullied me into doing things their way. Since then we have barely spoken. The trust was broken and I just don’t know how I can ever get that back. It is very hard to have a relationship with someone you don’t trust.

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