How Do Kids Handle the Sudden Loss of a Brother or Sister?

loss of a sibling

By sharing our story and struggles about what we went through with Madeline, we cross paths with the many people who have gone through equal pain and devastation. I believe it’s therapeutic for all of us. Some of the stories are recent, and some are from years ago. Some are tragic, and some are hoping to have or have had a different outcome than ours. All are painful, emotional and sometimes awkward, but people still share with me. For this, I’m grateful even with all the emotions that it often conjures up.

This past weekend I was at a hockey fundraiser for one of my son’s teams. A night where we weren’t at a hockey arena but instead eating, drinking and laughing, hanging alongside the parents that I spend a better part of 8 months a year cheering on our sons. I’ve become so close with so many of these parents over the years. They have become an essential part of my support network and social fabric and set the foundation for some amazing friendships.

I walked up to one of my friends at a hockey event, talking to someone I had never met before. I was introduced to this person, and she looked at me like I was somewhat familiar. Then she realized who I was, and she said, “I just finished reading one of your blogs.” I could tell she was getting misty and a little emotional. I wish I could say it was the first time it’s happened, but it’s not. It’s a very empathetic response from many parents who couldn’t imagine going through what we had with Madeline. We chatted for a while; I rubbed her shoulder and said it was nice to meet her, excused myself and ran into other people I knew.

The following day I woke up; I had received an email from the kind woman I had met the night before. She felt she needed to apologize and explain what had caused some emotion in meeting me the night before. Her pain didn’t come from being a parent; instead empathized with what Zac and Sawyer must be going through and dealing with the sudden loss of their sister. She had tragically lost her teenage brother in an accident caused by a drunk driver. She still thinks about and misses him every day. This pain is the cause of something that occurred more than 20 years ago but still has such a profound effect upon her today. I believe she delivered a very compassionate message to me to ensure my boys continue to be well-supported through this tragedy.

We often wonder if we’re doing everything we possibly can do for our boys. Some of their behaviours can be attributed to having to deal with the tragic loss of Maddie, but most behaviours are just boys being boys. We talk often. We are incredibly close. They have received counselling over the last year and a half but often wonder what else we can do to ease their pain. They participate in the fundraisers and are actively involved in The Maddie Project. 

The Maddie Project has been selected by six local high schools as the year’s charity that their student body wants to actively support and raise awareness. Zac has volunteered to be The Maddie Project Ambassador. He will be the spokesperson talking at assemblies before all these schools, bringing attention to the cause and the stigma associated with teenage mental illness from a teenager’s perspective and as Maddie’s brother. 

To know Zac is to understand that this is outside his comfort zone. He is passionate about the cause, and he knows how important it is to communicate this message. For knowing Zac the way he is, his compassionate and caring personality, he doesn’t want another brother or sister to experience the profound sadness and loss that both he and Sawyer have suffered through the loss of their sister. They couldn’t have made a better choice.

Please share and help support The Maddie Project by bringing greater awareness and access for youths and their families affected by depression and other mental illnesses.

Chris’ Bio

Through the bankruptcy of his first business, a strong balance sheet means nothing unless you can get the money out of your business and into your hands personally, tax efficiently, and creditor protected. Chris helps and coaches business owners to avoid a similar fate as he suffered in his first business.

Through several clever strategies, he illustrates how these little-known vehicles can get money out of your business efficiently, build your corporate brand and create a legacy through charitable means to help make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.

Also, he has seen the impact that mental health can have upon success within your business and your life and how the two are on a constant collision course. When Chris became aware that Entrepreneurs struggled with their mental health at more than twice the rate of average adults, he realized he wasn’t alone and made it his ambition to understand why and do something to help. His business, The Finish Line Group, aims to help support the entrepreneur’s financial, philanthropic, and emotional needs.



Chris’ Why Statement remains, “To openly communicate the lessons learned from my past so that others will thrive in their lives, minimize their setbacks and leave a positive and lasting legacy.”

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