The death of a brother or sister affects the survivors throughout life. Psychoanalysts have focused on ‘the replacement child’ born after the death of a sibling. Parents become overly protective or frozen in grief, unable to respond to the living child. The lost sibling becomes a saintly figure impossible to compete with or live up to. In a period of high mortality and large families, the death of a sibling meant rearranging accustomed patterns of seniority and responsibility. Religious belief, mourning rituals, and sharing grief with extended kin helped contain bereavement, but death of siblings in old age wiped out shared memories. James Barrie had lost his brother in boyhood. The ongoing popularity of his hero Peter Pan, the boy like his brother who never grew up, reflects the generations who reduced the numbers of children they bore and then lost so many to the devastation of the Great War.
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