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This is the very best thing about being from a large family

large family

Gladskikh Tatiana | Shutterstock

Cerith Gardiner - published on 02/27/23

Having a multitude of siblings is beneficial in many ways, but it's only when you're older that you see the true blessing.

As a child, there are many wonders to being surrounded by a lot of brothers and sisters. And often people tend to consider the advantages of the large family from a child’s perspective. However, a recent conversation reminded me of the real beauty of having a big gang to rely on later in life.

Yvonne, a friend of mine who is the eighth of 12 siblings, recently went through a traumatic time when her younger sister, aged 45, collapsed at work and fell into a coma. As the sister, Jacqueline, was single, Yvonne was nominated as her legal guardian. She was in charge of all matters, including financial and medical.

The weight of such a responsibility became evident when the doctors weren’t sure if Jacqueline would survive her numerous medical procedures. Yvonne was aware that her sister wanted to be an organ donor.

To add more stress into the mix, Yvonne is also the legal guardian to her very elderly parents, who have their own catalogue of medical issues. So she had to decide how to address her sister’s situation with her vulnerable parents. After chatting with her siblings, with their support, she decided to give her parents a very watered down version of what Jacqueline had undergone, until they got further news from the medical team.

Over a 10-day period, the siblings waited to see if the blood vessel that had burst in their sister’s brain would leave her brain dead. But to make matters worse, while lying in a coma, Jacqueline got an infection, leaving doctors very pessimistic. Yvonne was really at her wits’ end. She prayed. She asked others to pray. She visited her sister as often as she could while maintaining her full-time job and looking after her own family.

When the hospital called her one afternoon, Yvonne was sure it was to ask for her permission to turn off the life support. She called her many siblings and they arranged to get to the hospital to be by their sister’s bedside.

Thankfully, the news wasn’t as bleak. Although still in a coma, Jacqueline was beginning to make progress.

The gift that lasts a lifetime

Understandably, when an exhausted Yvonne shared all of this she nearly cracked. However, there was a glint in her eye, a kind of joy. She shared with me how the whole incident had really brought it home to her how blessed she was to have so many siblings.

There was always someone to be at her sister’s bedside. There was always someone to pick up one of her children when Yvonne had to talk with doctors. And more importantly, there was a group of individuals who had a shared appreciation of the pain they were all going through.

The siblings provided their very own support group. They helped Yvonne make important decisions. They prepared each other for the worst. And they encouraged Jacqueline to get better by sharing endless childhood memories.

And it was this one event that made all the siblings really appreciate the joy of a large family. It’s a joy not just reserved for childhood, but a gift that can help siblings navigate some of the trickiest paths as their own children become adults and have to face tough decisions, and when they all have to face the inevitable passing of their parents.

So the next time your adult sibling is driving you nuts, remember, they’ll be the ones who will hopefully be by your side when you need them most. And the more siblings you have, the chances are, the easier those difficult times will be.

As for Jacqueline, after many prayers and support, she is able to breathe unaided and is beginning to respond to her siblings’ pleas to wake up.

Catholic LifestyleChildrenFamily
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