When there is a loss in multiple births (i.e. twins, triplets or more), there are two different groups of people affected by the loss. 1) The Parents, and all the grief that comes about with the loss of a child(ren); and 2) The Survivor(s), and all the emotions that occur around the loss of a special sibling(s). It may be very difficult for parents to share the loss with their survivor for various reasons. The topic may just be too emotional to discuss, or one or both parents want to forget the loss ever happen and life should go on as it was before – and of course this is a fantasy. Life is never the same after the loss of a child. It may be that the parent wishes to protect the survivor and not have him or her become hurt and/or upset. In some cases the parent may have difficulty bonding with the survivor in case that child dies too. For the survivor, this news that they began life as a duo, triplet or more, is an important part of who they are and what they may think and feel about themselves. Knowing their true history from the beginning helps many survivors integrate the news and make it a part of who they are as they grow and develop. It has certainly been my experience that those survivors having the most difficulty with being a ‘twinless twin’ have learned later on in their life and have the news has literally rocked their world and changed everything they thought about themselves. Sadly, many express that ‘the wrong twin died.’ They can think so little of themselves that they feel things would have been better all around should they have died and their co-multiple survived.
For parents it may not be easy to share with their survivor(s) the true circumstances of their birth, but try and consider the possible consequences when your survivor finds out later in life and needs to make dramatic readjustments regarding their life’s course. Sometimes we need to focus on what we do have and making sure what we have grows to be healthy, vibrant, knows they are loved and protected. I feel very strongly that our children deserve the best from us, including the truth, even when it hurts us.