My sister, myself

Losing a loved one to suicide is a horrific tragedy. Read how one girl was so consumed by grief that she began adopting the personality of her late sister, and how, over time, she was able to move towards healing.

This can help if:

  • you or a friend is having suicidal thoughts

  • a sibling or someone you know has committed suicide

  • you feel alienated from friends by your grief.

Girl looking sad closeup

I lost my sister to suicide

When you lose a sibling, suddenly and unexpectedly, as is the case with suicide, part of you stays the same but another, major part is changed forever. My older sister was my friend and mentor, and now that she’s gone my belief that life is predictable has been shattered.

I felt alienated

My sister’s suicide was a major shock to our family. I played a vital role in keeping us all together and functional as a unit, but I didn’t know where to turn for the help that I needed. None of my friends, teachers or colleagues knew how to support me, but I just needed them to listen to me and show that they cared. They sort of turned their backs on me. I felt alienated from those people I thought knew me best.

I started to act like my sister

I started to take a deeper interest in the things that my sister had enjoyed and lived for. I took it upon myself to fill the void she had left. I started to act like her towards my parents – to play her role.

I was also on a self-destructive path

Suicidal thoughts became a part of my everyday life as I tried to become the sister I loved and missed so much. I expressed my grief and pain through my art and writing at school. When my Art and English teachers recognised this as a cry for help, they arranged for me to talk with the school counsellor. I was too scared to tell the counsellor much, though. It wasn’t until I started university that I sought help for myself.

Learning to heal

I’m finally learning to heal. I now know that I’m not my sister; I’m me. I can never be who she was, no matter how hard I try. But I now know that I can keep the memory of her alive without role playing the person that she was. It took a long time for me to come to that realisation.

When we lose a loved one suddenly and unexpectedly, it’s hard to cope. But help is available if we seek it. By talking about our emotional pain and working through our grief, we can learn to keep the person alive in the form of our happy and important memories of them, while still maintaining our own personal identity.

What can I do now?

  • Watch Allira Potter's advice for coping with grief and loss.

  • Read up on other common reactions to death.