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Posts Tagged ‘surviving twin’

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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Question:

My twin sister passed away 3 weeks ago and I am having such a hard time with her death. Can you suggest anything that may help me?  My heart is broken, I don’t want to do anything but stay at home.  I would appreciate any help you can give me.  Thanks!

Response:  

I am so sorry to hear of your loss.  Of course you are having a hard time.  Your sister’s death was only 3 weeks ago.  We are not made to bounce right back in a short period after a loved one’s death.  Please don’t expect too much from yourself.  There is a group in the U.S. entitled Twinless Twins and you might find some solace in connecting with them. Once again, don’t expect to feel better immediately.  Be gentle with yourself, give yourself time and expect to have highs and lows as you try to come to terms with losing this special person in your life.  A grief counsellor who understands the unique twin bond may also be helpful.  Your doctor may be able to refer you to someone in your area.  Please accept my sincere condolences on your loss.

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Question:

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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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. 

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There is a wonderful support organization in the United States called Twinless Twins who offers support and resources for multiples of all ages who have lost their co-multiple at any point in their lives.  They can be reached at http://www.twinlesstwins.org    They have support Chapters all over the United States and an annual convention, sometimes in Southern Canada as well.

There are also several books about being a twinless twins (a term used even for loss within a higher order multiple set of multiples):  Living Without Your Twin by Betty Jean Case;  The Survivor, by Lynne Schulz;  Who Moved the Sun? a tribute to the loss of a twin brother; and Twin Loss by Raymond William Brandt.  As well, my Site at http://www.jumelle.ca has articles and resources for survivors who might appreciate them.

I am so sorry for your loss.

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Kate Polley has written a book in memory of her twin son.  In addition, it can be personalized in memory of your own Little Angel(s).  Check out this special memorial children’s book at  www.thestoryof-books.com   You won’t be disappointed.  It also makes a great gift for anyone you know who may have a surviving twin or multiples.

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Hello,

Today, 1/11 marks the 30th anniversary which made me a twinless twin. Until this year I had never thought to search for anyone else  who may have shared the same feelings I do about losing a twin. The loss, even my full lifetime later, still feels isolating to a point that it seems “no one” will ever understand, however, this article is assurance to me that people do. This realization brings comfort in a way I needed today.

My twin, Amy, died at 6 months old from a congenital heart defect after multiple surgeries and attempts to save her she was unable to survive on this day January 11, 1986. When we were born the beginning for both was rocky – between her heart and my weight at 3.4lbs., our outcome could have both been grim. However, after weeks I built strength and her situation turned the opposite.

My parents and older sister have always been supportive and we remember Amy and celebrate her life. I, however, harbor survivor’s guilt daily questioning why was I given a life that was taken away from her? It leaves not only a loss but so many unanswered questions.

Although these emotions will always be with me it brings great comfort to know that others can empathize with something I felt I was experiencing alone. Thank you for researching this project! It has been impactful and if I could help in any way don’t hesitate to reach out. – J W

Hi JW,

I am so pleased that the article on my site was helpful to you.  I am also very sorry to hear of the loss of your special Womb Mate, Amy.  it is wonderful that the rest of your family has been so open to allow you the space and safety you need to mourn your loss.  That is not always the case.

I wanted to address your concerns re survivor’s guilt, if you don’t mind.  It is very common for survivors to feel such guilt.  What I can tell you (which I am sure you already are aware) is that while humans can control so much of our circumstances, there is still so much that we cannot, e.g. weather, illness, who lives and who dies and when and how.  Mother Nature has the final say in many areas yet.  It is no one’s fault, certainly not yours or your Mother’s that you gained strength and Amy was unable to overcome her challenges.  It is so much luck, and things could have easily gone the other way, but they didn’t.  You are not “bad” because you survived.  This was completely beyond your control.  Another pain in the neck is that not everything can be explained or answered.  Why? has to be one of the most annoying of questions.

I feel very strongly that Amy would be delighted that you remember her and that you are living a full and rich life.  I am quite sure that she would not want you to change places with her.

Wishing you the very best of the best,

Lynda

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