Siblings and Family Dynamics

Regardless of what our family looks like, we all come from a group of people who have shaped us for our entire lives. The make up of each family is incredibly unique; the dynamics affecting each one is a combination of both static and changing factors. As most mental health experts will tell you, we are all a combination of nature (the DNA we inherit from our parents) and nurture (the experiences when young). Which one is more important? Who knows.

When a person is diagnosed with cancer, particularly a serious and life-ending incurable diagnosis like Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC), every relationship is affected in some way. There is a ripple affect that only increases the longer the person with the disease is alive. The struggle of living with the disease, dealing with treatments, and the ongoing uncertainty can exponentially increase over time, for the patient and those around them.

I am the eldest of six (6) children and that number and all the relationship and family dynamics that come from that have affected all of us our entire lives. Lisa Valentines writes on a Nancy’sPoint Mets Monday post about some similar dynamics in her family. In her family, the siblings rallied around each other before their sister’s death and then are continuing to support her and raise money for MBC research following her premature death from MBC.

This example is one way that family can come together, but so many of us have very different experiences. Kate Bowler recently posted this blessing on social media and it really resonated with me:

When you have that precious and valuable opportunity to support your family, to rally around that family member, and support that person through a criss, you should take it. No matter what has occurred in the past or might occur in the future, opportunities like these don’t come along very often and when they are gone, they are gone for good. I do understand that it is hard, often excruciatingly so; and yet, what is more worth your time and energy than supporting those who you are connected to by blood?

7 thoughts on “Siblings and Family Dynamics

  1. I am the oldest of 7 close-knit sisters, the only one to get cancer. Other sisters have heart disease. One sister died last year. It is debilitating. We are trying to figure out how to be without her.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Omg, as I’m sure you know, you had me in tears immediately. I had to stop reading the prayer. I’m going to come back to it when I’m ready to deal with everything it was bringing up. I think I may take it to my therapist bc it nailed it. I’m REALLY struggling with this same thing. Thank you once again for finding words I’ve been too depressed to even find. As you know, I’m always here if you need to vent. ❤️


  3. One thing I observed from my cancer patient support group is it can be affected dependant upon the role you fulfil in your family unit. My group was largely made up of those who are the strong ones, the organizers, the ones who make stuff happen – and a common experience was that family members struggled to know how to act, often waiting to be told, because that’s the family dynamic. Sadly, there can also be those individuals who are all me, me, me about your cancer experience. Hopefully they get balanced by unexpected, individual acts of support.

    Liked by 1 person

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