A time for reflection.
(An article written for the U.S Twinless Twins Organisation, March 2008, upon request.)
twin son had just turned 18 and as I looked at the strong young man who was now
Not once did he complain. Not once did he tell me that he felt embarrassed. His support had not only assisted me to see life from his point of view, but had encouraged me to keep going and not give up, no matter how difficult the battle seemed at times as I fought the stubborn mindset of other bereavement care organisations, as well as the ridicule and disbelief of those in my own community who viewed me as a mother who had not Ďgotten overí an unfortunate experience.
There is so much documented evidence that surviving twins who lose their sibling during pregnancy can experience so many negative, life-shattering events. It is widely noted that they may suffer depression, have trouble forming long-term stable relationships, and sometimes seek help through the taking of alcohol and drugs. However, I felt that because we had tried so hard during Rhysí childhood and adolescence to be open about his twinship, and positive about how special and wonderful he is to us, that we would hopefully avoid this slippery slope of disaster.
Therefore this article is based upon the discussion I had with my son Rhys about his twinship and his own reflections regarding that most special, unique and irreplaceable relationship that no one else, not even me, could truly share or understand. I also acknowledge that the writing of this article has been based upon the viewpoint of only one surviving twin, and that an interview utilising the same set of questions, with a greater number of participants, may reveal a completely different set of responses.
However, since my surviving twin has been such a valued and constant source of inspiration, I thought that an article based upon his experiences would prove interesting all the same. I wanted to instill a sense of hope not only in the minds of surviving multiple birth children, but in the minds of their mothers who have endured so much physically and emotionally as they are constantly reminded of their loss on a daily basis.
When asked as to his thoughts about being a twin, Rhys was not too sure what to say. He answered that he thought about it occasionally, but it was something that was just always in the background. ďItís because Iím usually busyĒ, he shared.
Rhys was quite right too. We all get busy and no matter what it is, grief, friends, even family all end up at one time or another just sitting in the background. The worrying issue is that sometimes our family and friends are no longer waiting for us when we decide to return, but thatís not the case with grief. Grief waits patiently, for years, even generations and then suddenly embraces us like a long lost friend. Unfortunately for us, Grief is never a welcomed companion and can create disruption and havoc to our lives in the blink of an eye.
I asked Rhys whether he still felt a bond with his deceased twin sister Megan. Was this something that had perhaps diminished because he did not say very much about her? After a moment he looked at me and answered, ďSometimes I wonder what life would have been like if she was still here.Ē He said that it was difficult to put his thoughts into actual words because these were things that were not asked about very often.
I wondered whether males tended to bottle up their emotions more than females. This would certainly account for Rhys not consciously thinking about his deceased twin, or the bond that they shared.
I appreciate my son taking the time to discuss his emotions. I particularly liked the quote he left me with at the end of our interview: ďIím living for the both of us Ė it makes me feel good!Ē
Questions and Answers
Q: Do you feel different to other people because of your twinship?
A: Yes, but not in a bad way. I know that I wasnít born alone, and that there was someone else with me who is not physically with me now. I donít know exactly how else to explain it.
Q: Did your family, (your mother), ever make you feel embarrassed because she kept bringing up the subject of twin loss? How do you feel about the work she does in twin loss issues?
A: No. In regards to people that I know, or relatives that I have heard stories about who have died, I probably feel closest to Megan. I donít think Iíll ever forget that Iím a surviving twin, although I donít feel the need to consciously think about it all of the time.
I donít usually think about it, but if Iím asked then I donít have a problem. I think itís a good thing what my mother is doing.
Q: Your mother wasnít too sure how to celebrate your 18th birthday. Being a young man, she didnít want to make you feel depressed because for her it was a day of joy, tinged with sadness. How did you feel about your birthday celebrations this year?
A: I guess to be honest I was just too busy to notice how I felt. Iím not someone who stops and reflects upon their emotions, I just get on with living my life. I have just joined the Army and completed my familiarisation training.
When birthdays arrive, I donít necessarily think about not having my twin. My parents certainly havenít made me feel uncomfortable. You donít usually celebrate peopleís birthdays after they have died, but since Iím a twin, technically I do. We have celebrated in the past and I hope to do it again further on because I do think it is good.
As long as it is my birthday; itís her birthday! I guess I live my life out for the both of us. Thatís probably why I donít think about things too much, because I donít want to dwell on the sad facts. I donít think Megan would want me to be stuck dwelling on her. She would want me to get on with life, for the both of us.
Q: Do you ever feel alone, as opposed to feeling lonely?
A: Iím not sure how to answer that one. In a way Megan is with me, and at the same time she isnít. My train of thought never seems to go down that way very often.
Q: What do you say when someone asks you about how many brothers and sisters you have?
A: I say that I have two younger brothers and if the person asks whether or not I have a sister, then I usually answer Ďyesí and Ďnoí. I say that I do, but she died six weeks before birth. So in reality, I really do have a sister.
Sometimes people ask me if I am a twin with one of my younger brothers because we have a strong family resemblance. I usually say that No, I am not a twin with either of my brothers, but yes, I am a twin.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to comment on about being a surviving twin?
A: I reckon itís good that my parents told me about my twinship. If they hadnít told me, I canít say what my reaction would be if I suddenly found out later in life.
However, it does make me feel a bit special being a twin, even though my sister isnít here.
Thank you Rhys for participating in this interview!