Posts Tagged ‘surviving multiple’


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?


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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While there is a lot of literature available to support bereaved parents, there is less so for the survivors of multiple-birth and/or who lose their co-multiple later in life.  Multiples come into the world at the same time, but there is no guarantee they will leave it at the same time. What challenges do survivors face?  Below I have shared some of the existing books which I think are very supportive.  If I have missed any that you think should be added to this list, please let me know.

Twin Loss: A Book for Survivor Twins, by Raymond William Brandt.  Dr. Brandt lost his twin brother when they were 20 years old.  Dr. Brandt began the American organization, Twinless Twins, to support surviving co-multiples, parents, grandparents, healthcare professionals, bereavement counsellors and anyone else needing to learn about the unique twin relationship and the challenges when one dies.  Twinless Twins can be reached at http://www.twinlesstwins.org

The End of The Twins:  A Memoir of Losing a Brother, by Saul Diskin.  Saul lost his twin brother to cancer later in their lives.

Who Moved the Sun?:  A Twin Remembers, by Ron McKenzie.  Ron lost his twin brother, Don when they were 62 years old.

The Lone Twin: Understanding Twin Bereavement and Loss, by Joan Woodward.  Joan lost her twin sister when they were three years old.  In this book, Joan explores not only what her loss means to her, but after working in the multiple-birth field for several years and learning about multiples’ connections, Joan prepared this important and eye-opening book.  This is a must-read book for understanding and comprehension of what it means to lose a co-multiple at any point in life and what the survivor has to face moving on alone.

Living Without Your Twin, by Betty Jean Case.  Betty is a twin, had twin brothers and twin grandchildren.  In this book, Betty explores loss of a twin through death, suicide, murder, adoption and estrangement.  She discusses what it means to lose a twin, separation and reuniting and its challenges.

The Survivor, by Lynne Schulz.  Lynne’s first book was The Diary.  Lynne had boy/girl twins and her daughter, Meghan, did not survive.  Lynne addresses the challenges of raising a survivor of multiple-birth plus some of the challenges that parents can expect to have to face as their survivor navigates their lives without their womb-mate.  Lynne also discusses the challenges for her, as a parent, of loving and bringing up her son while knowing there should have been two children throughout the same journey.


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Hi there, I would just like to connect with twinless people.  I lost my other half, my sister, past year and the sadness I feel is overwhelming me.  I struggle every day.    

Kind regards,  E.

Response:  Hi E.,

I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your sister.  There is a group in the United States called Twinless Twins and they can be reached at www.twinlesstwins.org   They have chapters all over the US and an annual convention.  I am sure they will be able to support you.

Please also consider seeing a bereavement counsellor who has experience with the unique needs of twinless twins.   As well, there are several books on the subject which you might find helpful.   Joan Woodward wrote “The Lone Twin” and  Betty Jean Case wrote “Living Without my Twin.”

Enclosing Peace and Comfort,                                                                                                               Lynda

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Angela Tollersons is a guest author and following is her article.  If you would like to get in touch with Angela, you can do so at http://www.forfamilyhealth.net   Thanks Angela for sharing your wisdom.


How to Help Loved Ones Who Have Lost Multiple-Birth Children


The loss of a child is one of the greatest human tragedies there is, and the pain is often amplified when it is the loss of a multiple-birth child or children. To an outsider, having any surviving children may seem like a comfort amidst tragedy; but in reality, it creates a new world of complicated, impossible devastation. When a loved one is suffering through this kind of pain, it’s difficult to know what to say or do. These are a few things to keep in mind when someone you love has lost one (or more) of their multiple-birth children.


Be mindful of your words of comfort. Even the most well-intentioned words can feel hurtful and insensitive in this situation, especially if you’ve never experienced it yourself.  Avoid phrases like, “Time heals all wounds,” and, “Everything happens for a reason.” The fact is, the pain of losing a child will likely never completely subside and there is simply no “reasoning” that can mend the wound. Though your intention is to help, it can feel like you’re trivializing their loss. Acknowledging that it is an unfair, unimaginable situation is an honest and heartfelt alternative.


Consider making a donation to a charity in the lost child’s name in lieu of flowers. Although flowers are a beautiful sentiment, some parents may find them overwhelming. They can also be a painful reminder of what they’ve lost: something beautiful that dies too soon. A charitable donation honoring their child can be an equally beautiful and thoughtful show of support for your loved one.


Stay in touch, but don’t overwhelm. One of the most important ways you can show support for your loved one is to simply be available. Social media is helpful, but shouldn’t be your only route. If you aren’t physically close by, consider having family conference calls. It’s less-invasive than hopping on a plane and coming for a visit — which your loved one may or may not be ready for — but still demonstrates a show of support. Remember not to push too hard; it’s OK to postpone a call if they don’t feel up to it as long as you let them know that you’ll be there when they do feel ready.


Ask what they need, but anticipate that they may not have an answer. It can be difficult for parents to even think straight after the loss of a child, so the seemingly simple question of how you can help may be a struggle to answer. Offer to make a trip to the grocery store, pick up other children from school, or help with any special arrangements for the lost child. Even dropping off a sandwich platter or casserole can help reduce a bit of stress; stay for a quick bite if you’re sincerely invited, but don’t overwhelm by forcing a visit.


If there is a surviving multiple child, don’t make them your only focus. As the non-parent, it may seem like the best route is to focus on the positive and thus on the surviving child. However, your loved one may not be grieving only for their deceased child. They’ve also lost a unique experience of bringing home and raising more than one baby, of watching the relationship the surviving child could have had with their sibling(s). Again, not being sensitive to this could feel belittling of the loss. The last thing anyone wants is to forget the child as if they never existed, so don’t be too afraid to bring them up.


Talk to them about getting a service dog. It can be tough to watch your loved one suffer this kind of loss and feel impossible to not hover. A service dog not only provides constant, unconditional love, they can also be trained to recognize signs of a panic attack and intervene. It can be a wonderful way to provide comfort to your loved one without overwhelming them, and put your own mind at ease that they are receiving constant support.


Losing a multiple-birth child is an unbearable burden, and affects not only the parents and siblings, but also grandparents, extended family and close friends. By leaning on each other and helping one another through the loss, everyone can adjust to a new life.


Angela Tollersons has a passion for family health and wellness. She currently volunteers as often as possible in her community with parenting and child advocacy groups, especially those who focus on special education and anti-bullying. When she is not updating her blog, she is usually exploring the great outdoors or playing a game of Scrabble with her family.



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