Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 1112–1123 | Cite as

School Aged Children’s Experiences 7 and 13 Months Following a Sibling’s Death

  • Dorothy BrootenEmail author
  • JoAnne M. Youngblut
Original Paper


This study described 6-year to 12-year-old children’s responses 7 and 13 months after siblings’ NICU/PICU/ED death. Using semi-structured interviews, at 7 months, children were asked about events around their sibling’s death. At both 7 and 13 months, children were asked about their thoughts and feelings about the deceased, concerns or fears, and life changes since the death. Thirty one children (58% female), recruited from four South Florida hospitals and Florida obituaries, participated. Children’s mean age was 8.4 years; 64.5% were Black, 22.5% Hispanic, 13% White. Interviews were analyzed using conventional content analysis. Resulting themes: circumstances of the death, burial events, thinking about and talking to the deceased sibling, fears, and life changes. Most children knew their sibling’s cause of death, attended funeral/memorials, thought about and talked to their deceased sibling, reported changes in family and themselves over the 13 months. Fears (something happening to themselves, parents, other siblings—death, cancer, being snatched away) decreased from 7 to 13 months especially in 7-year to 9-year-olds. Seven-year to 9-year-olds reported the greatest change in themselves from 7 to 13 months. More Black children and girls thought about the deceased and reported more changes in themselves over the 13 months. School aged children thought about and talked with their deceased sibling, reported changes in themselves and their family and their fears decreased over the first 13 months after their sibling’s death


Child death Sibling death School aged children Siblings Bereavement 



The study was funded by grant R01 NR012675 from the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Nursing Research. The research reported does not reflect the views of the NIH or NINR.

Author Contributions

Both authors are principal investigators on the grant; participated in the concept and design, analysis and interpretation of data, and drafting of the manuscript; and have approved the manuscript as submitted. Neither of the authors has any competing financial interests or conflicts of interest in relation to this work.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health SciencesFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA

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