How My Brother's Death Haunts My Parenting
Photo by: Rhiannon Logsdon

Something happens when you become a parent. You love more. You worry more. You feel a lot more. For me, parenting has triggered an anxiety over losing a child. Maybe it’s because my brother passed away when I was 14. Or that I finally understand the unconditional, giant love that parents speak about, and the thought of that being taken away is debilitating. My heart can now empathize on the parent level of losing a child, not just with those who’ve lost a sibling.

Losing a sibling is not something that you ever truly heal from. You move on, but every stage of life you reach that they didn’t, takes you back. Going back brings great memories, but for me it also brings pain and fear.

I know that having a little anxiety over letting your children experience new or challenging things is just part of being a parent, but sometimes I feel like I’m going crazy. I don’t want to be that helicopter and overprotective mom who won’t let her children grow up and experience things for themselves. But life is just too scary sometimes, and I struggle with letting go just enough to let them find their own way. Which is happening a lot during age three, where my sweet twins tell me they can do everything “all by myself.” It takes me back to that day almost 16 years ago, when my brother and his friend told my mom they wanted to walk a few blocks to the store by themselves, and my brother never came back.

I daily have a wild thought run through my head about how my children one day might get hurt. For instance, the creeper who was driving around town slowing down at bus stops, or the oblivious drivers who speed through the quiet streets when I’m walking with the twins in the stroller and wearing the baby, or the thought of rattlesnakes in my backyard, or the kids falling off playground equipment or when they are teenagers and want to drive somewhere by themselves… This doesn’t even begin to put a dent in the long list of scenarios that my brain conjures up. I could go on and on. How in the world does anyone manage to raise children and stay sane?sibling loss, mom fears, letting go

But the one that gives me the most anxiety comes from all the posts I’m seeing on social media about secondary drowning, water safety tips, etc. These are important pieces of information, but I find myself just scrolling past them or clicking away from the articles because it terrifies me. It literally terrifies me. I should be one of the advocates for pool and water safety because I know all too well the dangers.

You see, that dark day almost 16 years ago, the one when my brother had permission to walk to the store by himself… he didn’t go to the store. He went swimming in someone’s private pond instead, and tragically, he drowned. I don’t talk about it often, but it still haunts me. I’m angry with him for lying to my mom, for doing something he knew was trespassing. For not thinking about the possible consequences. I know my mom taught us to weigh those things when making decisions. Our line of communication with her was/is always open. There was absolutely no reason for him to “betray” her like that. My heart just breaks for my mom. She couldn’t have prevented this. It WAS NOT her fault. He was a child. At 15, he was still a child, and HE made a bad choice.

This time of year, my mind can’t help but go there. I can’t help but relive the fear of me or one of the kids having a water accident. Thankfully, they’re learning how to swim, and my brave husband has helped me overcome a lot of my fear around water. But above that, I find myself wondering how will I keep my kids from making bad choices that might end in tragedy?

The answer is that I can’t. I’m not in control of them. I’m their role model and positive example; but at the end of the day they’re in control of their choices. I can only guide them and love them through their experiences. And share the wisdom I’ve learned through losing a sibling and living life after.

sibling loss, mom fears, letting go

Parenting after losing a sibling has haunted me in some ways, but it’s also given me a wonderful perspective. Perspective to take each day in, as hard as that is sometimes in these early years of their lives. I’ve learned to focus on today, and the now, and push those wild thoughts out of my mind. To always kiss my babies and tell them how much they are loved. To tuck them into bed every night. I will hold on to them, but I will let them grow. I’m learning to let go, and this is the hardest thing I will ever go through.

What fears do you have parenting that you’ve struggled with?


  1. I am so sorry for your loss. I have so much anxiety for my kids safety and I am trying to learn to let go too. I imagine with you experiencing such a tragic loss, it is especially hard.
    I am the mom that watches them closely at the pool while the other moms let their kids go totally unsupervised. Yes, they can swim, but I was a lifeguard and I know things can happen. My husband sees me cringe when he suggests something slightly dangerous, and I dread the day something bad happens.
    I am trying to let go too, but it is so hard. Thank you for writing this!

  2. I can so relate to this topic. My brother died 6 years ago. He was an alcoholic and sadly it eventually killed him. My daughter was only one years old when he died and it completely changed everything. I became so overly concerned about anything and everything when it came to her. That heightened sense of loss has not escaped me. However, I have leaned how to not let it take over my daily life. I just try to channel it into more love, time, and being present with my kids. Thank you for Sharing your story. It’s so nice to know that someone else feels this same way!

  3. I hate thinking about these fears but I guess we have to prevent them.
    Yesterday my SIL babysat my 4 year old.
    When I picked him she let me know that the dresser in her 7 year old’s room fell on the 7 year old- luckily he moved a bit but he’ll have a nasty bruise on his leg for a while.
    This made me sick that they were goofing off and she knew it was a top heavy dresser.
    I am making my husband secure everything in my kiddo’s room today.
    It’s so scary how quick these things can happen.

  4. I too lost my brother. It was later, he was 40, and had a stroke, leaving behind two kids and a baby on the way. But it definitely makes me think so much more about parenting- and really, every facet of my life. So sorry for your loss!

  5. I relate so much! My brother died 11 years ago and it was due to a poor decision as well. Having a baby truly brought up so much anxiety about losing ones I love (especially my kids). Letting go is a life long work for me! Thank you for sharing this article – it always helps to know others experience similar anxieties.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here