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  1. Your needs matter. Siblings are used to coming second (or third, or fourth…) to someone else’s needs. Remember to put your own oxygen mask on first. You cannot look after others if you become burnt out and ill.
  2. Remember you are not alone. There are 1.7 million siblings in the UK. We must remember that we are not alone. Whatever you are going through at the moment, there is another sibling out there going through the same. Keep in touch with us and be part of the community: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Join our mailing list.
  3. There is no right or wrong way to feel. Festive adverts can tell us that families should be a certain way, and emotions are heightened this year too. Don’t let them get to you. Whether you’re missing your brother or sister because you’re separated, or you’re fed up with them because you’ve spent so much time together in lockdown – it’s OK. All feelings are allowed.
  4. Planning virtual festivities with your brother or sister this year? Read advice from other siblings here.
  5. Look after your mental and physical health. It’s common for siblings not to notice when their own health slides. Many compare their health to their disabled brother or sister’s, which might be different. Your health matters too. Struggling to cope? Text ‘shout’ to 85258 or call the Samaritans on 116 123. Both services 24/7.
  6. Let yourself grieve. When a family member dies, siblings are often supporting their disabled brother or sister to process the loss too. They may have little time or support to grieve themselves. Some siblings may have lost their disabled brother or sister this year, and Sibs offers our heartfelt condolences to you at this time. Whether this is your first, third or fiftieth year of bereavement, festivities can be a very hard time (and even harder during the pandemic). Wherever possible, give yourself the time and space you need to grieve in whatever way you need to and do reach out for support.
  7. Small moments of self-care do add up. Write down five things that you can do in five minutes, that are just for you. Do not multi-task.
  8. Let yourself say that things are hard. Many siblings say things like ‘This is much harder for my brother’. It might be very hard for your brother – and it is hard for you too. You’re allowed to say this. It’s OK.
  9. Keep something the same. In an unsettling world, it can help to keep something the same. So if you can eat the same Christmas lunch – even if you can’t have the same people there – do this. It might help you to keep the parts that you can.
  10. Alternatively – shake things up! When something is forced to change, it can help to have any element of control over it. So if Christmas lunch just won’t feel right, do something else entirely.
  11. You can’t be everything to everyone. Siblings often find themselves juggling multiple roles – looking after their disabled brother or sister, elderly parents, as well as their own children and families. Over the holidays, the pressure can increase. Remind yourself that you physically cannot be everywhere at once. It’s OK to let some things drop or not do them perfectly.
  12. It’s OK to enjoy yourself. Siblings often feel guilty for enjoying their own lives, when they feel that their brother or sister can’t enjoy the same opportunities. This is heightened at the moment for many. Do the baking with your kids, sit with your hot chocolate if you can – you’re allowed to have your own life too. No one gains if you don’t.

Do you have a tip to share with other adult siblings? Drop us a line info@sibs.org.uk

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