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Joe’s Sister Featured in Connecticut Newspaper

Joe’s Sister Featured in Connecticut Newspaper

Sister starts online support group for siblings dealing with loss.

BY BILL SEYMOUR REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN, June 1, 2019

Lisbeth Garassino poses with her late brother, Joe, during a party several years ago at their father’s Watertown home. Joe Garassino died in 2013 from a rare form of cancer and his sister has created online resources and tools for siblings suffering from the loss of another sibling. She is also launching a website to connect Connecticut cancer patients with each other for support. 

WATERTOWN — Deep in grief from the loss of her brother, Lisbeth Garassino discovered that few resources existed for those losing a sibling and she became determined to do something about it.

“When I did research, I found that when you lose a dog there are many resources. When you lose a sibling there’s pretty much nothing. It’s just crazy to me,” she said.  Adding that some people dismissed sibling loss, saying a spouse or child dying is more painful.  

As many people in grief do, she tried to make sense of the loss through a healing activity to help herself and others. Garassino, a marketing professional, developed an online community, joessister.com and Facebook page, facebook.com/LossOfASibling, to share experiences of brothers and sisters coping with the loss of their sibling.

She is now also launching a Connecticut-specific website to connect families and others involved in cancer diagnoses. It will be hosted at www.joegarassino.org.

Her only brother, Joe, died at 29 years-old within seven months of a rare cancer diagnosis. Lisbeth Garassino, a Fulbright scholar and a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross, began researching resources for the niche emptiness.

She focused on the loss of a sibling unexpectedly and “out of order” in terms of expectations of young age or good health. Many young people, she said, found this a challenge to fundamental expectations.

“It was like having your whole childhood erased in a way because you have to redefine everything,” she said. One of two children in the Garassino family, she quit her job in New York City and moved home to help take care of her brother after his diagnosis.

In addition to her online sites for sibling loss, she has worked with cancer research organizations and offered help to others – groping as she once did – looking for understanding amid the confusion of dealing with cancer, loss and out of order death.

“Because there’s so little in this space” about sibling loss, she said, “I’ve had a lot of people who have found me. And I haven’t done a lot of outreach. I would eventually like to write a book, and distribute it at doctors’ offices to help fill this large void in our culture.”

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