Question: I had no idea about twinless twins. I lost one of mine [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. The conversation is much easier to begin with a young child then to try and break the news to a say, 14-year old. With a young child, the words are less important than with an older child and parents can “practice” to get the words out as they perhaps also struggle with their own feelings about losing their child.
When the loss is shared early on it becomes 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, in my opinion. “There should have been two of you. Your Dad and I miss your little brother/sister very much.” 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 do expect the same questions over and over. This is how small children incorporate the idea of death. It is hard for them to understand. 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 will no doubt ask you at some point if the loss was her fault. It is not her fault, not your fault, nor 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.