Sarah Feeney (Family and Child Life)
Previous literature has found that siblings who lose a parent at a young age consider themselves close regardless of contact due to the permanence of losing a parent. Few studies examine the relationship between family member death and sibling closeness among young adults, and tend to focus on one sibling dynamic, limiting generalizability. The current study explores the potential association of family member death on sibling closeness, and the association between family closeness and sibling closeness. Using quantitative survey methods, the current study examined the differences in sibling closeness between emerging adults (N = 402) who reported losing a family member after the age of 12 and those who did not. Results indicated that siblings who did not lose a family member (M = 3.71, SD = .61) were slightly closer than those who did (M = 3.61, SD = .70), though differences were not statistically significant. Among participants who experienced a loss, there was no association between sibling closeness and closeness to the deceased (r = .10, p < .05). Among those who lost a family member, there was a significant association between sibling closeness and family closeness (r = .24, p > .01 ) and a significant association between sibling closeness and family contact (r = .14, p > .05). Findings suggest more research is required to understand the relationship between family member death and sibling closeness.
Keywords: Family member death, sibling relationships, emerging adults