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Being a twin the most defining part of my life

Media The Bereavement Process for Twinless Twins When we lose a twin, it feels for many of us like the literal end of our lives. That is true, in that it is the end of life as we have known it since the moment of our conception.

As one twin explained to me: I just took it for granted that Daphne and my breath were part of being alive. This is really important! It affects the meaning we ascribe to ourselves in the world. It is physically destroyed. We are often left feeling half of a person.

Identity and Twinship

We lose our grounding, and we are off-balance. We often feel unable to negotiate our world. The twin that remains for us is both a physical and psychological memory, accompanied now by crippling pain. So not only are we bereft as twinless twins, but our sense of who we are as individuals can be severely affected, even threatened and dramatically challenged.

Therefore, how we are affected by our twin loss depends a lot on the meaning of our twinship to us, and to whom we believe we are as individuals.

The Bereavement Process for Twinless Twins

Identity and Twinship Twins begin their identify formation in the womb. Whether fraternal or identical, they receive different stimuli and resources in the womb environment and, therefore, have different experiences that affect their fetal development.

But from their cellular origins, they are ushered into the womb in relationship, both to their mother and to each other. And early on, they begin to show distinct, individual, and also interactive patterns of behavior and temperament, which have been observed and documented by researchers with the use of ultra-sonography.

These patterns are often repeated after birth. I think it is fair to say that the rudiments of separate identity and relationship formation in twins have been clearly identified through ultrasound during the womb experience. The powerful significance of an in-utero bond between twins, and its effect on their identity is more difficult to analyze from the inter-twin responses researchers describe to date.

Much more research needs to be done. We do know, however, that reports from twins whose twin has died in utero or in the early stages of life, indicate that a significant and prolonged experience of loss can result in the surviving twin even with early twin loss.

We further learn about the formation of identity in twins from the significant work of Ricardo Ainslie. His work focuses solely on the experience of twins at birth. He also found that the twinship experience itself affects the psychological development tasks that face each twin. He points out that the key factors here are somewhat independent of whether twins are identical or fraternal.

The twinship experience presents twins with psychological challenges to their development. Basically, the stretching of resources in the womb and in the home can being a twin the most defining part of my life impact the psychological support and nurturing each twin needs, making the developmental challenges more difficult for the twins to meet.

In this context, twins will often turn to each other for the comfort and nurturing they might have missed. This makes it more difficult for them to obtain a sense of themselves as separate individuals and hence, to form and consolidate their own identities. Twins, therefore, often separate and individuate in later stages of psychological development; for example, in early or late adolescence see Ainslie in recommended reading list at end of article.

Some of us, maybe even more of us than we realize, may reach adulthood without having fully achieved this important developmental goal. Taking into consideration that the issue of identity can be a source of vulnerability for twins, I think it is important to note that the research shows most twins, despite their challenges, go on to lead engaged and competent lives. The closeness, intimacy, and myriad of shared experiences create in many twins an ability to empathize and effectively achieve a genuine connection with other people.

At the same time, they often persist in finding their own individual path. Loss and the Bereavement Process We meet twinship now at the point of loss — at the place where some of you are struggling with your first months of loss, with the numbness, the depression, and the disbelief. And for others here — at the place where death and loss have begun to sink in — sometimes with a vengeance — and can no longer be denied.

For some of you, you are at the place where you, with a deeply imprinted and unconscious memory, yearn for and miss the twin you never knew, except in the womb. And then there might be others who are at the place where you continue to suffer from your loss, though years have passed, and you have long since been left behind with your grief, hiding it in isolation.

Wherever you are in your own place of loss, you are on your healing path; for the grieving process is an essential part of the healing from any loss.

An effective healing process is an active process. It entails being present for, and actively engaged in, the grieving process as it unfolds naturally within us. Sadly, our culture does not readily support or give adequate time for the healing process that nature officers us.

As a result, we must reach out to find ways to engage and support it and ourselves. It is very important to understand and accept that periods of numbness, pain, fear, disconnection, despair, sadness, anger and guilt, as well as the whole range of human emotions, are common stepping stones along the healing path of loss.

This path unfolds before us in an uneven, repetitive and seemingly cyclical way. We can feel we have finally moved to being able to cope and be present on any given day, and then be unexpectedly jerked back again by a sight, a piece of music, or maybe a smell, into a memory that holds pain and loss. The up and down being a twin the most defining part of my life waves of our grief are a natural characteristic of the healing path. The psyche knows what needs to be revealed and when.

It is as if all the corners of the twin relationship that we lost must be engaged and borne witness to. An effective healing process involves understanding and feeling entitled to the unique character and duration of your own process. This allows you to find your own individual pace and to attend to your own needs as you walk your path. The very core of effective healing entails listening for and bearing witness to, through experience and sharing, the emotional memory of your relationship to your twin.

Your physical or sense experience of your twin was taken from you; but your emotional relationship imprinted in your body, in your heart, and in your psyche, is left behind, clinging to the shadow of the departed physical presence of your twin. Finally, an effective healing process entails courage, courage to be present for the places of feeling that sometimes seem unbearable. And it entails trust, trust in your own natural process of healing.

  • These expectations create confusion, misunderstandings, and unrealistic demands;
  • The powerful significance of an in-utero bond between twins, and its effect on their identity is more difficult to analyze from the inter-twin responses researchers describe to date;
  • I will be forever grateful to Dr;
  • At a party, teen-agers of the Bounds twins' set munch doughnuts and sip Cokes whenever they are not dancing with serious faces to sentimental music;
  • This is often hard to do as our tendency is to want to remember only the good things about our twin history, especially in loyalty to our departed twin;
  • At right, Barbara dances with Jimmy Dick.

The healing process begins to happen naturally after the death of your twin. Often in the first stage, the symptoms are numbness and depression.

How a Man's Unborn Twin Fathered His Child

You feel distant and removed from your life. You are without appetite, overtaken by tiredness, unable to engage others, even your loved ones, or to care. Tasks and chores are done mechanically, if at all. Some twins at this stage lose the ability to function for a period of time. This, to your family and friends, can seem like a further disaster on top of the loss that has already happened. Yet it is not — it marks the start of your healing. It is as if your mind and body must stop in order to deal with the shock and mobilize for the healing tasks ahead.

The process then begins to slowly unfold as the body and psyche open little by little in order to take in and integrate the loss. They arise naturally in the bereaved one. Relationship — Therapeutic and Group Support In order for the healing process to unfold successfully, it needs to be made safe. The best way to make it safe is in relationship. Twins are born and grow in intimate relationship. Finding themselves twinless, they experience the essence of loneliness, and need the support and safety of relationship in order to heal.

Another major source of support can be a group experience, ideally made up of bereaved twins. The knowledge that your burden of twin loss is shared and that your grieving experiences are being a twin the most defining part of my life often shared, is an immeasurable gift, in terms of the comfort and healing potential it offers bereaved and lonely twins.

I will be forever grateful to Dr. Raymond Brandt for starting this international support group. I realize that with the exception of Twinless Twins Support Group International and its more localized regional groups, a twin bereavement group can be difficult or even impossible to find. But, other groups focused on loss can also significantly aid and nurture our healing process.

Your local hospice will often offer excellent bereavement support groups, as well as Compassionate Friends and other national and local bereavement groups. One-on-one counseling can be very helpful, providing your therapist is sensitive to and educated about twin loss and your special needs.

Advocating for your own needs is important to your healing process. You can share the reading list at the end of this article with your therapist or group. TTSGI also offers more reading information on its website. Personal Support One way to support and engage the healing process yourself is by expressing your feelings.

One can do this by keeping a journal, through creating art or music, or through movement, as in dance. Or, you might support your healing process by expressing your feelings in a ceremony.

The idea is to feel and be present for these feelings as they arise, and to express them in some form, thereby honoring and releasing them. Finally, creating ceremonies and ongoing programs in honor of your twin helps to bring closure to the physicality of your relationship and to carry forward the enduring qualities and spirit of your twin. Grieving Your True Relationship For all of us twinless twins, being honest to the best of our ability about our loss and our reactions to it, is essential in order for our grieving process to unfold.

It is important to be in the reality of our relationship, as opposed to an idealized fantasy of twinship. This is often hard to do as our tendency is to want to remember only the good things about our twin history, especially in loyalty to our departed twin. A truly healing bereavement experience entails bearing witness to all the events and feelings you remember and experienced. This includes the unrealized plans and dreams you had with your twin, the things you wished you had said, and the other places of disappointment and regret you still hold.

How a Man's Unborn Twin Fathered His Child

It includes the negative as well as the positive. Every intimate relationship, by its very nature, holds both. It is very hard to accept that the experience of loss and healing for twins is most often long and painful. The time your healing will take is very much geared to your individual background and personal experience.

We must be patient with ourselves and the process. Take one day and one step at a time. The more you have loved and felt connected, the more loss you will feel and the more feelings you will need to process.

  • We do know, however, that reports from twins whose twin has died in utero or in the early stages of life, indicate that a significant and prolonged experience of loss can result in the surviving twin even with early twin loss;
  • The emotional history of your relationship to your twin is as deep, as delicate, as mutual, as powerful, as challenging, as complicated, as your twinship was.