Vol. 19 No. 2 (2015): Journal of Nursing Pensar Enfermagem
Review articles

Bereavement of children and adolescents when a sibling dies: integrative review

Sílvia de Barros Ramos
Enfermeira, Hospital Dona Estefânia, MSc, RN

Published 2015-12-30


  • children,
  • teenager,
  • nursing,
  • death,
  • pediatric palliative care,
  • sibling bereavement
  • ...More

How to Cite

de Barros Ramos, S. (2015). Bereavement of children and adolescents when a sibling dies: integrative review. Pensar Enfermagem, 19(2), 3–17. https://doi.org/10.56732/pensarenf.v19i2.106


Children’s response to the death of a sibling has not often been examined, however, some previous studies refer to this experience as a potential trauma to the child which may have long-term effects. An integrative review was performed to systematize the available knowledge about the grief of a child who has lost a sibling. The data was collected in September 2014 and a research protocol was created with its descriptors and exclusion and inclusion criteria. The body of the initial analysis was composed of 39 studies. Sibling bereavement may manifest itself in numerous negative symptoms, such as guilt, fear, sadness, despair, inferiority, concern, loneliness and depression. The grieving children also frequently suffer from sleep disorders, enuresis, anorexia, somatic complaints, abdominal pain and headaches. These children may have difficulty expressing their feelings, and think they are not recognised in their sorrow, these feelings can lead to social isolation and early school leaving or low attainment levels. These reactions depend on variables, which should be explored. In order for there to be an improvement in the nursing care given to a child/adolescent grieving the death of a sibling, it is essential to know the different manifestations of grief, so that we can strive towards emotionally balanced development.


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