How Does Twin Honor the Sister Who Died?

Gladys writes in: I just lost my twin sister three months ago to something we now know as Long QT syndrome. She was perfectly healthy and woke to check on her crying baby one morning and fell unconscious and never gained consciousness again. Our 30th birthday is this Sunday and I am wanting to do something special. Honestly, I wish that I could skip this birthday altogether. Do you have any ideas of how to honor her memory?

Linda Pountney, vice president of Twinless Twins Support Group International, responds: Dear Gladys:?Please accept my heartfelt condolences.? I also lost my twin in my twenties, in an instant, with no warning.? My world was forever changed and for a time, life lost much of its joy. The sudden nature of your twin’s death certainly plays a part in your grief. Grief support groups were invaluable in my recovery. ?

This Sunday, as you turn thirty without your twin by your side, I wish the love you felt for each other to feel real and in the present for you on this special day, that you shared for 29 years. Even if one moment of time reflects the joy of what you experienced together as twins, you will be blessed by her/your love as twins. ?

Birthdays seem to be the hardest days for twins who no longer have each other in life (twinless twins or lone twins). You express a desire to skip this birthday all together. Whatever you feel is right for you to do on this first solo birthday. Remembering back, I cherished the freedom of having nothing to do, but also having the ability to walk outside and notice a flower or a rock to bring in for my twin, to cry for her, and to relish in whatever emotion came to me. I needed to be alone, but everybody is different.

This evolved to wanting to share a sundae at the cemetery, go somewhere she had never gone in her short life, and hear my sons whom she had never met read a poem in her honor at dinner. ?

I do special things to honor Paula and our twinship, but usually find it easier to do them a day or two before my birthday hits.? Planting a special garden to be with Paula’s spirit, contacting her oldest friend and holding a “PaulaFest” to share memories, and creative endeavors including a photo collage of our life, a scrapbook, or journal were all rewarding in many ways.?

Reaching out to help another grieving twin fuels your heart and Twinless Twins Support Group (twinlesstwins.org) offers “healing by helping” opportunities. ? The absolute best thing I can do is to take care of myself and let myself feel the pain of grief, thus freeing myself to enjoy life. ?

In Twinship, Linda Pountney, twin 2 Paula ?

Linda Pountney is Vice President of Twinless Twins Support Group International http://twinlesstwins.org offering support for twins and other multiples who have lost their twin due to death or estrangement, http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/TwinlessTwinsSupportGroup/. Linda lost her own twin at age 21 when her identical-twin sister Paula died in a plane crash.

Linda Pountney

More Articles Written by Linda

Linda Pountney is the past Vice President of Twinless Twins Support Group International http://twinlesstwins.org, offering support for twins and other multiples who have lost their twin due to death or estrangement. At the age of twenty-one, Linda’s identical twin sister Paula died in a small plane crash. The effects of this trauma contributed to a delayed onset of Linda’s grief for her twin. Support resources were not available at that time. Without the tools to move forward in her life without her twin, Linda’s grieving process was delayed for years. A mother of two sons, Linda lives in Connecticut with her husband and youngest son. She has been published in national and international craft magazines, most recently on the healing power of scrapbooking. Linda has been a workshop facilitator on sudden traumatic loss, and using scrapbooking as a healing tool to process the emotions associated with grief. Memorializing her twin using the creative process has become a healing ritual for her. She has been a guest on “Healing the Grieving Heart” syndicated Internet radio show. Linda was featured on the television show “Inside Edition,” interviewed for “Good Morning America,” and “Good Housekeeping Magazine” about the effects of losing your twin. She has contributed to several bereavement books. Linda was published in “We Need Not Walk Alone,” the national magazine of The Compassionate Friends; “The Twinless Times Magazine,” “Scrapbook Retailer,” “Craft Trends Magazine,” and numerous trade publications. She is the Twinless Twins Public Awareness Coordinator, editor of “Twin Links” e-newsletter, and the founder of a Yahoo Discussion Group for Twinless Twins. Currently twin loss discussions take place on the facebook group Twinless Twins Support Group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/8156469513/

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  • brenda moore says:

    my identical twin sister passed away on 3-19-2015 we have always lived by each other all our lives I miss her so much she was an alcoholic real bad she had hepatitis c copd pancreitis and of course liver failure

    • Hi Brenda-
      Your loss is very recent. I am sending my deepest regret and sympathy/empathy that you are feeling these difficult emotions. Being in touch with what you are feeling is a good thing, but never hesitate to gain knowledge about bereavement. Grief can be tough on our bodies and emotions. If you would like to read articles about twinloss or attend a local meeting or national conference please visit twinlesstwins.org. It is valuable to talk about your twin, and feel understanding from other twins… this can be done at a meeting or conference. I asked the moderator of the Facebook site to contact you, asa this is another resource. Be kind to yourself and know your twin would want what is healthy for you. Grief can be worked through, but it take patience and lack of self-judgment.
      in twinship, Linda

  • Dee says:

    Hi Brenda
    Almost a year ago my close friend died in a car accident. She is an identical twin. I am still in contact with her living twin (even she lives in a different country).
    As we near the 1st anniversary of her death – I am struggling to find the words of support for my heartbroken twinless friend.
    Any advice?
    Thank you
    Dee

    • Hi Dee

      Concerning your close friend’s twin, who is the surviving twin… If I put myself in her place, I would have wanted to hear about my twin and what they meant to you. And, very important, that you care about how she is doing and can only speculate on what she might be feeling, as a non-twin.

      If your friend talked about her twin sister – details would be great to share with the surviving twin sister. I ate up anything anybody could tell me about how important I was to my twin, even thought, it might not have been expressed.Think back to different experience where her twin entered into your friend relationship.
      best,
      Linda Pountney

      Linda

  • Maybel says:

    I am 35 Years old,I lost my twin sister 2006/02/17.2Months before. 26th birthday.Although I was in Europe while she was in Nigeria with all My siblings and parent.I want aware that she has Been ill.But my mum did all sh could to but she passed on night between 16th \17.I was in a dream and saw my mum with white gown like an Angel.She said I am going home.I just want to say good bye.That was when I knew someone has died but never knew it was Martha.I lost half of my soul.I never got over this lost.I was told next day whish was already buried.I never had the chance to say Goodbye.That was the hardest part of it.I could not understand how they said they were protecting me not to fly down home.It was my decision to make not theirs.I miss part of myself and I became lonely.Even if I have a child who is 1and 3months then .But it’s not the same bond I have with my twin sister.I am totally alone in thought,I always talk about her as if she is here.That is how I remember her.

    • Dear Maybel,
      The “twin aloneness” you wrote about is something I have also felt from my twin’s death. I have also heard this from many many other twins (the vast majority). Sometimes it does not appear for many years and other times it is felt right after their passing. This can depend, in my opinion, on your age at the time of this gigantic, earth changing loss, the level of individuation (having your own separate identity, and also on how you lost your twin/if you got a chance to say “goodbye”, and of course other variables, including your twin relationship. Your wording “I miss part of myself” is particularly accurate and poignant. We are sewn together from before birth and nothing can tear us apart; it seems not even death can break the bond. I have carried my twin Paula with me through my life, have felt her loss more during very important or sensitive times, but always she seems to be a part of me, yet something I miss.

      My children brought love to the forefront, but as you say, they cannot replace one’s twin. This does not diminish their importance, nor your motherhood. When you said you “are totally alone in thought”, I am reminded of how we come into this world together. As a twin, I feel different from non-twins, in that my approach to living was a dual approach. An amazing twinless twin who wrote a book you should purchase, Mary Rockefeller Morgan, used to say that as twins we see the world from a “we” perspective, instead of an “i” view (that of singletons). It has helped me immensely to know other twinless twins; even to go online to a Facebook group and communicate with another twin who has lost their twin can bring validation to what you are feeling. If you are able to “give it to yourself”, the journey is made lighter. Yes, it is a solo journey, but made so much more twin-like, if shared with even one other. Please feel free to email me any time at twinlinda@me.com.

      My twin died when we were 21 in a small plane crash, with no opportunity to say goodbye. It was easy to run away from such enormous pain, which I was not equipped to deal with. But at some point we are no longer able to run, and must face the pain, to go thru it to heal. Healing does not mean that you will never feel pain; anniversaries and birthdays are difficult, as you must know. When I did do the work of grieving, I had to keep giving myself permission to grief. My family culture did not easily allow this and viewed it as a weakness. When I faced the pain, there was a gift at the end… a knowing of my twin and our twinship. In my opinion, the work of twin grief involves an exploration into who you were in the twin relationship, and a redefining of who you are now. Some surviving twins, including me, have observed ourselves taking on characteristics, likes, hobbies and even job pursuits of our twin. This can only bring one closer, but is not to be searched for, just acknowledged. As you know, we are all unique in our twinships.

      I wish you peace and the ability to see the gifts of twinship, while still seeing the reality and difficulties with living this joint approach to life. We are born into a marriage with our twin – this can allow for so much closeness bit also disappointments in your other relationships, thus, why it is a gift to know other twinless twins. I asked our facebook chat group administrator Dawn Barnett to contact you. Please stay in touch.

      in twinship, Linda

  • sheila bulger says:

    Hi, My name is Sheila. My husband is an identical twin. His brother recently passed, from stage 4 lung cancer. He lived with me and my husband throughout his last 4 years of life.
    My husband found him, and he now has that vision burned into his mind. We buried his brother, on their birthday. My husband said he chose that day, because he, no matter how old he gets, will never forget the day he buried him.

    I went to twinless twins and ordered a book. I don’t know how to help my husband. Im not a twin.

    The book I ordered was “living without my twin”

    If you have any other suggestions to help him, it would be great.

    thank you

    • Hi Sheila- I am glad you went to Twinless Twins Support Group. I hope your husband went with you. He will gain healing from talking to other twins who have lost their twin at regional meetings and by phone, email, and if he is on Facebook, we have an online support group. I will ask the head of this Facebook group to email you. There are other books but you made a good selection for now. The loss is so new. Please tell the person contacting you, Dawn, where you live and we will get you in touch with the regional coordinator in your area- can also be found on twinlesstwins.org. I am very sorry for the loss and I am here to help also.