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What you should NOT say

2002-07-08 1:28 a.m.

Things You Should Never Say To a Parent Who Has Lost a Twin

Let me preface all this by saying I am having a hard enough time dealing with all of this on a day to day basis but I hear something like this at least every day. It hurts. Please if you're reading think twice before you saying something. I know most people mean well. But sometimes the best thing to say is nothing at all.

I would also like to say thank you to all the prayers and positive thoughts I have received in my guestbook. I appreciate you all.

"At least you have the other twin"

My personal response lately: Yeah it's too bad I had to lose two to keep one.

No-one replaces anyone, not even a genetically identical person born at exactly the same time. While the bereaved parents are usually grateful for the surviving twin, nothing can take away the pain of losing a baby.

The baby who died was not an "extra" or a "spare" baby, the baby lived (if only in utero) and breathed ( if born alive.)

When someone loses a child after birth later in life, no one would dare say to them "Well, at least you still have your other children".

"You can always have another baby"

For me this is especially hard. It's like the world around me forgot that we tried for 3 1/2 years and had to do IVF to get pregnant at all. I do not have unexplained infertility. I have specific medical problems that was preventing conception.

So this cannot be assumed. If the parents have undergone fertility treatment, pregnancy may not ever happen again. Even if it did the chances of having twins again are very remote. Parents whose twin dies lose not only the baby but the special twinship that exists between twins. The surviving child may grow up as an only child and this may be especially painful when the parents know their child did not start out life alone, that they should have a twin as they grow up.

"It was God's will"

Pure bunk! Every good and PERFECT comes from above. This is hardly good or perfect. I don't understand why things happen, but God does not purposely take babies away from their families. Nor is this a punishment for something the bereaved parents did. What could they do that was so bad that God would punish them by taking the life of their child? Nothing! God doesn't work that way! This falls into the category of the reality that bad things happen to good people.

"If you had to lose him, at least it happened now instead of after you had really gotten attached to him"

Parents, particularly mothers, become attached to their babies very early in pregnancy. I have heard Dr. B. Raphael say "The younger the child the worse the grief." This is because you don't often get the opportunity to make many memories; people don't often say to you "remember when your baby/child did this."

Memories and reminiscing help in the grief process. If memories are few, then the grief is more painful not less. One mother said: We had 24 short days with Zachary. I would have treasured even one more hour with him.

"The one you have keeps you up all night and demands all of your attention, how would you have managed having two?"

People who say this fail to understand just how difficult it is to look after one baby while you are grieving for the other. Most bereaved parents of twins probably feel that they would have managed better with a few extra sleepless nights and frazzled days than the constant grief and painful reminders. Moreover, as the years go by anniversaries hurt and remind. The first smile, crawling, walking, riding a bike, first day at school all happen to the surviving twin and as each milestone passes the bereaved parents wonder what it would have been like with two.

October 11, 2006 - 2006-10-11
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July 3, 2006 - 2006-07-04
Parenting is Hard - 2006-06-30
Update June 23, 2006 - 2006-06-23