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Archive for the ‘Multiple Birth Loss’ Category

Question:  

I lost one of my twins in the womb.  My daughter is now 16 months old. I’ve been thinking what would be an appropriate age to tell her about her twin?

Suggestions:  

Hello,  I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your baby.  Nothing about losing a much-wanted child is easy.  I suggest to parents that they talk about the sibling as early as possible.  It is easier to begin with a young child then to try and break the news to a say, 14-year old who may be shocked to hear the information for the first time.  Teenagers have growing up issues to deal with and learning the truth about their origins later in life can be mind-boggling.  With a young child, the words are less important than with an older child and the parent gets chances to work through the way to deliver the news. When the truth is shared early on, the lost sibling is part of the fabric of who the survivor is vs them facing a completely different scenario at an older age and realizing that they are not who they thought they were.  Even starting now is not to soon.  “There should have been two of you.  Your Dad and I miss your little brother/sister very much and wish whole-heartedly s/he could be here, with us.” And such.  Short sentences, a few words as you also feel the ground for sharing.  It will no doubt be difficult for you as well.  

When your daughter begins to speak, she will eventually ask you questions.  Use age-appropriate language when answering, be honest, try not to avoid the topic – it may come up when you don’t feel like talking about the subject, and expect the same questions over and over.  This is how small children incorporate the idea of death.  It is hard for them to understand what it means to die.  Repetition helps.  “S/he was too sick to stay with us and be a family on earth”  is a gentle way to help her understand until she is older and better equipped for as much detail as you feel you can share.  Be prepared to cry sometimes and that is OK.  You can tell her you are glad to have her but not to have her brother/sister makes you feel sad.  You are helping her learn that life is not always fair, there are loving people around her nevertheless and she is not to blame because he/she died.  She may ask you at some point if the loss was her fault.  It is not her fault, nor yours or her Dad’s.  It was something sad that happened and you would change it if you could, but you can’t.

I hope these are some helpful ideas.  Please accept my sincere condolences on your loss. Lynda

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A parent’s challenge is to respect the multiple-birth bond, but also encourage their children to become happy, healthy individuals.  It can be easier to do things within the group and there is certainly much less pressure to socialize multiples, but are we doing them a favour when we constantly see them only or the majority of the time as a part of group?  I don’t think so.  I also think it is better for the children to be introduced to their separateness while they are still young, the younger the better.  In that way, doing somethings without their co-multiple(s) becomes a natural part of their lives and who they are.  Here are some ideas on encouraging your multiples to also go it alone:

1.  Encourage individual preferences, likes and dislikes amongst the children.  This can range from food choices, to book choices, to sport choices, to course choices.  Letting them choose their own clothes for the the day can also help them feel comfortable with choices that pertain to each of them individually.

2.  Grandparents may take only one for a sleepover.  This is so win/win for children, parents and grandparents.

3.  Going on an errand?  One on one time can be hard to have happen with multiples, so work that time in in the natural flow of things.  Take only one child on the errand: to the bank, for groceries, to the drugstore.  These little times apart present opportunities for parents to learn about each child’s particular ideas, thoughts, fears, and interests.  Helps with bonding as well.

4.  Don’t constantly dress them alike.  When they look like a package, they will be perceived as a package by everyone.

5.  This also goes for rhyming names.  We can do our children a huge disservice when we chose their names.  We are not always present to protect them as Larry, Harry and Gary need to go it alone sometimes.  Don’t help make them a target of ridicule over something they have had no control over even though the names may be a family tradition or because the parent thinks it is “cute.”.

6.  Separating their school classrooms can be an obvious choice.  They still see each other at lunch and recess but lessons are separate.  Stories at the end of the day are individual, with no competition between them.

7.  There is another very important reason to help our multiple-birth children also be able to be apart.  They arrive in the world together but they most likely will not leave the world together.  Giving them tools to learn to be separate from each other may be an important step in helping them deal with the future when their “We” will become “I.”  I have worked in multiple-birth bereavement support for nearly 25 years and it breaks my heard to hear from grown-up surviving multiples who cannot accpet or go on without their co-sibling.  They are stuck, in unbearable grief and cannot go.  Some are also suffering from survivor’s guilt.  Of course they will miss this very close person whom they have been together with since the beginning, that is natural.  What we don’t want is an inability to move forward, live a good life, and be happy just because their co-multiple has died.  A worse case scenario would be if the survivor(s) wished to join their deceased multiple.  Giving them some tools to be separate from each other at the beginning of their lives, while still enjoying and celebrating their bond, could be a gift that will present itself many years down the road.  You, as the parents, may not be alive to console and hold, so it will be even more important that the survivor(s) be able to work through their grief in a healthy manner.   Please remember that your children are individuals and multiples.

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I have been watching the weather lately in Eastern Ontario and beyond (as I am certain that most of us have in our own communities) and those quickly changing weather patterns struck a chord with me:  sunny and fair one moment, 5 minutes later a downpour from gentle to fair to torrential and then back to some sun shine.  The mosquitoes adding a tormenting component.  I am finding these days of dramatic and changing weather patterns can mirror grief lines.  One minute managing, coping, completing necessary and daily tasks and then everything is brought to halt, reality seeps in and our loss speaks volumes.  Tears may flow gently, or in torrents, trying to make sense when there is no sense.  The calm and the storm become intermingled and vie to ‘be the boss of me.’  Time helps but it doesn’t take away the pain indefinitely.  It remains to visit again another day and yet, somehow, we go on.

May you find comfort in the sun, in your garden, in your family, in your plans, in your laughter, in your tears as your life moves forward.

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If you or someone you know has lost one, more or all of their multiple-birth babies, consider

getting in touch with Multiple Births Canada’s Loss Support Network.  They can be reached at

http://www.multiplebirthscanada.org    They have been supporting bereaved families for over 15 years with

loss resources fitting many occasions (e.g. getting through the holidays), offer private e-mail Pen Pal connection

and a monthly newsletter, Forever Angels.  You are not alone.  We are here to help.

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If you are looking for bereavement support for the loss of one, more or all your multiple -birth infants or children, are a bereaved grandparent or surviving co-multiple, there are two terrific Canadian sites to consider:

My own at http://www.jumelle.ca

and Canada’s only national support organization Multiple Births Canada’s Loss Support Registry at http://www.multiplebirthscanada.org

Your go-to places for bereavement support for understanding, resources, information and connection.

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This is the second time around at trying to get this Blog off the ground.  I am so technically challenged!  But perseverance is the key so hopefully this second time around will work more efficiently.

 

My hope for this blog is that bereaved multiple-birth parents, grandparents, surviving co-multiples and anyone else with an interest in loss in multiple-birth will benefit from its content and find a place of sanctuary, peace and comfort.

To lose a child is one of the worth things any parent can face.  Such a loss is beyond description and there is no such thing as bouncing back.  Time helps but does not completely erase what should have been and the helpless felt.  The world is a changed place.  It is no longer safe as we had previously thought.

 

In this space I want to share with you thoughts, hints, tips, stories, ideas, memorial ideas, research, resources and anything else which will help bridge the gap, even a little bit, between grief and sanity.

 

Forever Angels is the name of Multiple Births Canada’s (MBC) Loss Support Network’s monthly e-newsletter.  MBC has gratiously allowed me to use this name for my blog and I am grateful for their support.  Check out the wide variety of loss support available through MBC at www.multiplebirthscanada.org  I have been the Chair of their Loss Support Network since its inception 15+ years ago.

As such, there is a wealth of information and resources available.

 

If you have a question, concern or story you might like to share, don’t hesitate to get in touch.  I will be exploring the different types of multiple-birth loss in the next few days and weeks and perhaps something will resonate with you.

 

All the best.

Lynda

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