Brothers, Sisters, Strangers Blog

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Welcome to my new blog! Here, you can freely discuss your challenges with sibling relationships. If you would like, I will not use your name to protect your privacy.

My interest in this topic is rooted in my personal story; my older brother and I didn’t talk to each other for most of my adult life. Over time, we did reconcile, and I captured that journey in my book, Brothers, Sisters, Strangers: Sibling Estrangement and the Road to Reconciliation.

For years, I’ve wondered about the nature of sibling relationships and, in particular, when and how they break down, cut off, or enter the territory of estrangement. How do sibling estrangement and reconciliation define an individual?

Here, I hope to give others the opportunity to explore this underacknowledged topic, which many experts call “epidemic.” Like me, you may find it helpful to think through these issues; writing a post for this blog may provide a useful structure to begin to do so. Writing is therapeutic and capturing stories in words benefits both the writer and the reader.

For those who are seeking personal life coaching, I offer private sessions to discuss estrangement, reconciliation, and family relations. Please email me at fernschumer@gmail.com to discuss details. Thanks for participating and posting.

Public Radio stations feature interview with my brother and me

After decades of estrangement, my brother and I did an interview about our reconciliation with a North Carolina pubic radio station. Other public radio stations around the country are running the story during the holidays.

Men and Women Handle Sibling Estrangement Differently

Men often avoid discussing their pain, but that doesn’t mean they don’t suffer. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/node/1182228/preview

A mother of twins asks, “How do I get my son to open up to his sister?”

i totally agree with you. Men have been socialized to be "strong and silent", no emotion, etc. [This is a reference to the psychologytoday.com post, "Men and Women Handle Sibling Estrangement Differently." https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/node/1182228/preview ] My twins, boy and girl, age 40, had a falling out. I don't know why cause they won't say. My daughter will talk about issues, her brother doesn't almost never. When he does, he'll do it in ...

New Workbook Helps Estranged Siblings Cope with Their Grief

The Sibling Estrangement Journal offers a kind of therapy to process losses.  A survey for my first book on sibling estrangement produced many stories and statistics about this under-studied phenomenon. But I was most struck, over and over, by how respondents described the pain of the experience and the relief they found in completing the survey. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/brothers-sisters-strangers/202211/how-writing-it-out-can-help-estranged-siblings-cope-grief

How a Chaotic, Abusive Childhood Can Lead to Estrangement

  Free girl bullied in school image, public domain childhood CC0 photo. Children raised in chaotic, abusive, or neglectful families run the greatest risk of estrangement in adulthood.   https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/node/1181195/preview

4 Challenges for Siblings When a Parent Falls Ill or Dies

  Conflicts between estranged siblings may re-erupt during a parent's last days. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/brothers-sisters-strangers/202210/4-challenges-siblings-when-parent-falls-ill-or-dies

How family cutoff can produce both grief and relief

Grief and relief. These two emotions make a strange pair, yet they’re often experienced together by those who have had a conflicted relationship with a loved one.   https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/brothers-sisters-strangers/202209/how-family-cutoff-can-produce-both-grief-and-relief               Photo: Shvets Production

How to grieve an estranged sibling relationship

The estranged often experience “frozen grief"—mourning without resolution. Essentially, sibling estrangement requires mourning a living person. Unlike in death, however, this mourning process fails to bring acceptance and gradual recovery. We experience all the emotions of grieving but can’t reach a resolution. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/brothers-sisters-strangers/202209/how-grieve-estranged-sibling-relationship

How estrangement defines other relationships and friendships

New psychologytoday.com post: A family estrangement is traumatic, and it changes how an individual interacts.   https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/node/1179330/preview

A Reader Asks, “How to Move On?”

  READERS: Do you have any suggestions for Eleanor? She needs help coping with her losses. I don’t even know where to start. My brother cut ties with my mom and I in 2016, with no fight or one singular issue being the reason, except a less than ideal relationship that formed between our family and my brothers girlfriend at the time (now wife). I have no idea what happened ...

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