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To not mention my two siblings that died in tragic circumstances **trigger warning: suicide. Warning added by MNHQ**

(47 Posts)
user1476781406 Tue 18-Oct-16 13:46:11

This was my main reason for joining mumsnet but I was really nervous about what replies I might get.
This will be hugely identifying but I need to give details inorder to get genuine opinions.

When I was 11 my Sister died suddenly at the age of 14. She contracted a dangerous strain of flu and could not be saved. Over a few days she got more ill until one night she was lay on the sofa being sick and her breathing went like a rattle. Eventually the ambulance arrived but she was dead.

I was always honest about her and was quite open about the fact I had a Sister. Just two years later my Brother developed psychosis and committed suicide. I was walking along with him and he committed suicide in a very gruesome manner at the age of 16 .I had to identify his body (or remains as would be more appropriate). I came from a middle class, well respected family. It was a huge shock to the town I was from.

After my Brother died I just didn't feel able to let new people know about the deaths and when asked if I have siblings I just say I have one Brother. He has a Learning Disability.

When I do tell people they are absolutely gobsmacked and just don't know what to say so out comes the inevitable 'I'm so sorry for your loss'. I don't find it helpful eventhough I know people mean well. If I'd lost just one sibling I don't think that would be that shocking as a lot of people sadly have. Or if they'd both died in the same incident, again, it might be easier. But the two separate incidents and particularly the way my Brother die are so tragic. And people do ask how they died when you explain they are dead. A lot of people have siblings that die aged about 40 upwards, but early teens is so shocking and different.

My ex partner (and best friend) knows and so do his family but absolutely no one except family friends know anything. I come across as privileged when you first meet me and all people know of me is I'm privately educated, come from a middle class family and have a professional job. They somehow associate that as not having had hardship in my life. Although I'm now a single parent and life isn't easy. They would never imagine I had such tragedy.

I'm not sure if I should tell me closest friends about my past.They have no idea I had siblings that died. How would I even go about letting them know? I feel that I'm hiding my Siblings by not telling people about them but I just don't want the awkwardness. Was I unreasonable not to have said anything for years? AIBU to never mention them to anyone? My friends have never met my parents of anyone from my hometown so this is how people haven't found out already.

JCo24 Tue 18-Oct-16 13:50:53

I don't have any advice except for I think maybe you need to go and speak to someone like a counsellor.
Obviously what you tell people is up to you but your post seems very rambly and almost like you need to get it off your chest to absolutely anyone and as quickly as possible. I'm so sorry about your brother and sister OP flowers

TheWitTank Tue 18-Oct-16 13:52:34

Yanbu to deal with this horrible situation in whichever way suits you best. If anybody finds out through another person and asks you (which I doubt they will as it would be horrifically insensitive) then just say that you don't feel comfortable talking about it as it upsets you. Completely understandable and acceptable in my opinion.

user1476781406 Tue 18-Oct-16 13:54:15

I don't mean to ramble, just wanted to give as much detail as possible so I can get the best advice. I've never written about it online before now. Luckily I did see a fantastic counsellor when I was 17 and it helped me greatly. I definitely don't feel I need counselling at this moment in time. I've come to terms with the loss as it happened over 10 years ago now.

VeryBitchyRestingFace Tue 18-Oct-16 13:55:55

Do you have photos of your siblings in your home, OP? Would your friends see them if they visited?

Very few people who know me now - even those who know me well - are aware that I had a brother who died in childhood. I'm not hiding it as such, but it rarely comes up in conversation. I describe myself as an only child because that's how I feel now. Conversely, there are people who don't know me well at all, yet they know about my brother, because I disclosed it in the context of a conversation where it seemed appropriate.

I wouldn't judge anyone who I knew well who hadn't disclosed a tragic family death, particularly in the case of not one but two such deaths. You may find that one day their names/existance just naturally crop up in the context of a story you tell. smile

user1476781406 Tue 18-Oct-16 13:56:41

Thank you TheWitTank. People have asked me about it when they've found out. One of them googled my name to find a research project I did and found a news article. I was mortified.

I felt so bad as this person made me feel like the worst person ever for not openly discussing my Siblings.

user1476781406 Tue 18-Oct-16 13:58:49

There's been many times when could have mentioned it but didn't The only time I mentioned it was when my Bioss asked me why I was such an empathetic person. He then told me his Brother had committed suicide too.

But that's the only time.

I have lots of lovely pictures but I can't put them up as friends would see them and ask.

TheWitTank Tue 18-Oct-16 14:00:21

That's awful -you shouldn't be made to feel terrible about it at all. It isn't terrible. Its not exactly a topic you would naturally throw into a conversation, and it is very understandable that you wouldn't want to discuss such a traumatic time over and over to everyone you meet. You carry on dealing with this as you feel you can flowers

Wrinklytights Tue 18-Oct-16 14:00:49

Yanbu either way. It's your history and totally up to you who you share the information with. If you want to tell your friends then tell them. Such a sad story, it's not surprising that you find it difficult to talk about flowers

myownprivateidaho Tue 18-Oct-16 14:05:10

I agree that it sounds like this might be something you should explore with a counsellor. I agree with others that there's no right and wrong with this. flowers

shouldwestayorshouldwego Tue 18-Oct-16 14:07:42

I think that as you get older people ask less and less about siblings and more about children, so maybe it will naturally fade out of conversation. I wouldn't judge you for not discussing it, if questioned, maybe you can say that you find it hard to discuss it but you treasure your memories of them from childhood. Only the most thick skinned would proceed to go further. flowers for your loss.

VeryBitchyRestingFace Tue 18-Oct-16 14:09:11

I have lots of lovely pictures but I can't put them up as friends would see them and ask.

That happened to me. My then best friend came to my house for the first time and saw a photo of me and my brother on the wall. She asked who that was, I said "my brother". Her next question was "when did he die?" I was fine talking about it, although we quickly moved on to talk about something else.

Having said that, my brother died from natural illness. I appreciate that it's different when people can actually google (!) the news story on your sibling's death and read about it. sad. I think whoever did that should have had the courtesy to keep that to themselves.

Do you think you might be able to consider leaving a photo or two out when one trusted friend comes round sometime? I would feel very sad to think that any friend of mine didn't feel able to leave out photos of their dead siblings because they feared my reaction in some way.

user1471534185 Tue 18-Oct-16 14:10:02

User -
"I felt so bad as this person made me feel like the worst person ever for not openly discussing my Siblings."

That's their problem hun not yours, absolutely up to you as to whether you mention having siblings or not. Sometimes its hard to mention or brings back memories for you. I lost my sister and will always mention her but that's how I cope with it, not everyone is the same, but agree it always brings on the inevitable question of how they died etc. If people find out, just say its not a secret just something I have trouble talking about. You are quite in your right to your privacy. I really don't think you need to explain yourself to people.

And your initial message wasn't rambling, all made sense and easy to read, only you know if you need counselling, but you sound fine xx

mysistersimone Tue 18-Oct-16 14:10:51

Maybe it's time to put the photos up and let them ask. You don't have to give details, you can say they died and their passing was traumatic so you won't discuss that. If people ask why you've not mentioned it just say, this is very personal to me and I'm ready to let people know they were my family now as the trauma of their deaths was significant.

If you were my friend and decided to tell me I'd not pry for more information, I'd be honoured you shared and respect your wishes.

BarbarianMum Tue 18-Oct-16 14:12:12

I don't know the answer to your question but I do think it is hard to have a close friendship when you are feeling like you have to hide something about yourself to that person.

I have a friend X who I've known for 20+ years now. When we knew each other at university she told me that she had an older sister. Some years later she told me that she also had an identical twin sister who was profoundly disabled in a rta when they were children. She found talking about her sister very difficult but our friendship had got to the point where me not knowing about her was difficult too. Does that make sense?

It was strange to find out that their was a big part of my friend's life that she'd been unable to share with me and I did initially feel judged inadequate that I was somehow to blame for her not having been able to tell me before - then I gave my head a wobble and realised it's not - and was never -about me. Our friendship was much deeper after that point and I am someone she can talk to about that aspect of her life and all her emotions regarding her sister. I even got up the courage to let a couple of skeletons out of my own closet, which made me feel better (I was brought up not to talk about things that detracted from the outward respectability of our family, so similar to you my life experiences don't match the "edited" version of my life I present to the world.

I'm rambling now blush. I don't think you owe anyone all the details about your life but equally, my own experience has been that sharing things with good friends has been beneficial.

sianihedgehog Tue 18-Oct-16 14:13:15

"I have one living brother, and a sister and brother who died young."

Job done. No need to give lots of detail, people will probably not ask.

Mrsbclinton Tue 18-Oct-16 14:14:07

Im so sorry for your loss. It must have been horrendous to lose two of your siblings so suddenly and in such sad circumstances.

In relation to AIBU I dont think anyone could say you are or arent as its so personal and every one deals with bereavement in their own way.

You were young and in your formative years when your siblings died and now ten years later, you are probably a diferent person in many ways.

Any true friend would understand your reasons to keep this part of your life from them.

Counselling may help you explore your feelings. I wish you the very best x

trulybadlydeeply Tue 18-Oct-16 14:30:52

Can you perhaps make a few "rules" for yourself about how and when you disclose information.

For example you may decide with acquaintances and casual friends that you describe yourself as having one brother.

With slightly closer friends you could just say you had a brother and a sister who died young, and you'd rather not go into details.

With close friends you could decide to give a bit more information

and so on. In this way you can develop some stock phrases to "protect" yourself if someone suddenly asks about family.

Of course you are under absolutely no obligation to disclose anything to anyone. However as time goes on you may want to share with people closest to you, and they may surprise you by sharing painful things from their past. I'm not explaining that well, but sometimes if you are vulnerable with someone it gives them the opportunity to be vulnerable with you.

I would agree with the suggestion of considering seeking some kind of counselling or psychotherapy around this.

Good luck flowers

WildDigestive Tue 18-Oct-16 14:30:56

I think you should disregard entirely this person who made you feel bad because you hadn't told her about a family tragedy - it's entirely your business when and if you tell anyone.! You don't 'owe' anyone, however close, that information. Do you want to tell people? Or you can say they died separately in your teens, but say you prefer not to go into details at this point. The person who actually brought it up and made you feel bad after they'd googled you was callous and tactless and entitled.

There's no right or wrong way of doing it. I knew a guy - not very well, boyfriend of a friend - at university, whose parents had committed suicide together, and he had found their bodies. His way of dealing with it was obviously to tell everyone up front, given that I didn't know him well at all. On the other hand, I had been very close to someone for about fifteen years before she told me she had been abused by her mother. I don't feel she 'should' have told me sooner - if you are a friend you respect someone's wishes.

MimsyPimsy Tue 18-Oct-16 14:32:22

"The only time I mentioned it was when my Bioss asked me why I was such an empathetic person. He then told me his Brother had committed suicide too."
I think many people have had tragic things happen, and you only find out when your own awful experience comes up in conversation. People tend to keep stuff like this private, understandably, because it's so formative and traumatic. So don't feel bad about not telling people, because they may also have something they haven't felt like sharing.

ChathamDockyard Tue 18-Oct-16 14:33:58

You can do whatever you want. It's perfectly ok to not tell people if that's what makes you comfortable. You are not being disloyal to your siblings if you do this. It's also perfectly ok if you wish to discuss it.

I know a local family where several members died in tragic circumstances and I find that some people seem a bit too keen to find out all the details. As a close friend of the family I occasionally get asked about it by other people which i don't really like as it's not my business to talk about it.

Butteredpars1ps Tue 18-Oct-16 14:36:12

I am sorry to hear your story, and well done for writing this. I'm probably older than you and also experienced bereavement as a child and have only recently sought counselling. I'm not sure therefore If i am much of a model, as you sound like you wisely sought help earlier. Again, well done for doing so. I do understand that it's tough.

FWIW I too have hidden my story for much of my life. I learned to. Otherwise every time I told anyone I had to deal with their response (and often give them support hmm). It was just easier to keep stumn.

The trouble is that my background is a massive part of who I am and how I deal with things. Botlling this up has actually been really unhealthy, and only now that I have had counselling, have I felt able to be more honest with people. I have learned to preface with "I find it difficult to talk about this, because I have had some strong reactions" and find this has helped by acting as a bit of a don't be a dick warning.

My other piece of advice is that I have had to reprocess my thoughts several times through my life. My feelings have been dynamic and have changed at each life stage, such as having my own DC. If you found counselling helpful, I wonder if some further sessions to process your current thoughts would be helpful?

Good Luck.

ChathamDockyard Tue 18-Oct-16 14:36:25

I like the advice given by trulybadlydeeply. Maybe you could write it all down and see how you feels about it. You might feel better to have a plan.

Thingmcthingyface Tue 18-Oct-16 14:36:59

flowers What a horrific experience OP.
A sibling committed suicide when i was in my teens and I keep pretty quiet about it.

I always struggle with the 'how many brothers and sisters' question. I recently made a new friend who had lost a parent in a horrific and google-able manner who also struggles with questions about parents. I think this is part of the burden of these life events.

Could you try being a little more open, in increments? You may find sometimes it's less awful than you thought it would be, and sometimes it will be awkward and weird for you. I think mostly people you tell will be horrified and not know what to stay ('I'm so sorry' is usually the marker for this), some people will turn out to have had similar experiences, and some people will handle it brilliantly and open your eyes to other ways of viewing what happened, or just ask questions and give you space to talk...

But having a big secret like this is hard...

Thingmcthingyface Tue 18-Oct-16 14:40:12

That said I also heartily agree with PP that there is not reason you HAVE to tell anyone if you don't want to...

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