Grief & healing: Having a sister is a wonderful support

I was lucky enough to have a sister.

She is 5 years younger but these days we seem the same age. And we are very close friends. But more that — she’s a role model.

Her husband died long before my dear Baheej did. And she had two children still in high school. Now that’s a challenge — emotionally, financially, single parenting, basically in every way. Her children grew up to be great people with successful professions — her son is a family counselor and her daughter is a lawyer. And luckily they live nearby her.

She had a profession and good job as a med tech, and managed a blood lab. And she went back to school to get an MBA, so eventually became business manager of a medical practice with women physicians specializing in women’s care.

Our two brothers have both died. So my sister, Mary, and I are the two survivors.

We don’t look alike, except for our Swedish/Irish nordic coloring. Actually none of the siblings look like each other.

But my sister and I think alike. And she is a great support to me, especially since Baheej died.

There was also a period of time where I had frequent business in Colorado and she’d host us with our kids at her house for cookouts and celebrations.

These days, I text or email with her nearly every day, and we talk by phone when needed. She’s a great sounding board and source of advice.

Once you are on your own, such support is so important. And knowing you are there for each other really helps.

I’m sure this also applies to having a brother, and to brother-sister siblings. And to best friends too.

So the point is: Having a sister or brother is a blessing and wonderful support that helps a lot in coping with and managing grief. So let’s all remember to appreciate our siblings and friends. And my sister recently told me, “You are also my only one connection to the past and growing up.” That’s so true. And vice versa.

• Susan Anderson-Khleif of Sleepy Hollow has a doctorate in family sociology from Harvard, taught at Wellesley College and is a retired Motorola executive. Contact her at

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