*Note before I begin: this post really relates to anyone grieving. Replace the “sibling” word with the relationship(s) you lost. I hope it resonates with everyone who has experienced loss.
So now I can begin.
“Do you have any siblings?”
This question is asked so often in casual conversations, when first meeting someone, in classrooms and at work. You might not even realize how frequently it’s actually asked. Unless, well, unless you’ve lost a sibling.
“Do you have any siblings?”
*In my head* Yes, well, here’s the thing… I mean, well, how do I put this?
There’s two parts to the answer of this question.
Part 1’s answer reflects my “initial grief,” which, if I had to put a timeframe on it, I might say approximately five years. During this time, I was unable to truthfully answer this question. Well, I didn’t lie, but I also didn’t tell the truth.
My answer? “Yes, I have an older sister.”
End of discussion. Moving on. Redirect to literally any other topic.
I would say this answer comes after years of being “more established” in my grief. I became more confident and wasn’t worried about making someone else (especially a stranger) uncomfortable. Because the reality is that when people ask this question, they are most certainly not expecting you to start discussing your deceased sibling. Hence: uncomfortableness. But also important, because again, we need to normalize grief, so if you ask me a question about my siblings, I’m going to answer, in full honesty.
So my answer now? “Yes, I had an identical twin sister who passed away when we were 20 and I also have an older sister.”
Let’s go back to Part 1 really quick. I wasn’t wrong to avoid the real answer to this question. There is no “wrong” in grief. I was simply too hurt, too broken, too traumatized, and too depressed to even go “there” especially with someone who clearly didn’t know me well enough because if they did, they would’ve known I was a twinless twin. And I’m not placing blame on those people, whatsoever. It’s a “normal” question to ask, but it also doesn’t mean I have to answer it.
If you’ve read my post Please Do Not Disturb, you know I’m a “non sharer,” but if you are a “sharer” by all means, share! I encourage you to share if you want to and I encourage you to not share if you don’t want to. Neither is right or wrong.
*Note: If you don’t want to bring up your deceased loved one to someone who doesn’t know about it (especially a stranger trying to make casual conversation), don’t feel bad about it. Please don’t. I didn’t for so long and to be honest, there are days where I choose not to still because the grief sometimes (yes, still) is too much and I always need to remember to make the choices that help me survive. Your answer has no reflection on your love for that person.
So if I don’t tell you today, that doesn’t mean I won’t tell you tomorrow. Remember, on your terms.