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Archive for the ‘talking to your surviving about their multiple-birth sibling’ 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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There is a special group of photographers working in North America who will take the most beautiful, tasteful, loving photos of children who pass away near birth or right after they are born.  The organization is called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, and these talented and special people create the most from an extremely painful situation.  Parents who participate report that the photos are precious memories, especially over time.  In a multiple-birth situation with a survivor(s), these photos can start the conversation about letting the survivor(s) know of their true beginnings.  They offer a time to remember as a family, perhaps to grieve and to share feelings and emotions.  For survivors, the photos offer some healing about their origins and truth about their co-multiple, i.e. there were really two of us at one point in time.  One Mom shared that while most parents have many pictures and memories of their babies, for bereaved parents, these are all they have and they mean everything to them.

If you know of someone who has lost or will lose a baby, do let them know about this amazing organization.  There may be a chapter in your community.   There is no cost to have the pictures taken.

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