Category Archives: books on the loss of twins

With or Without Her ~a memoir of losing & being a twin by Dorothy Foltz-Gray

Just before I went away on holiday a book arrived in the post. It was published in late 2012 and I was asked to review it for our website. With the busy Christmas season ahead (and here in the southern hemisphere that means end of school year events along with packing and planning the summer holiday!) I popped it away in my “things to read” pile in my suitcase. There was also a feeling of wanting to savour the story, not to read it in haste but also, as with all books on the loss of a twin I come across, a cautiousness about just where it might take me…

With all the rush and hustle behind us, on a quiet summer holiday afternoon, I picked it up and started to read. Dorothy Foltz-Gray began writing eighteen years after her twin sister was murdered and it was thirteen years in the making. I read all of it that afternoon because I just couldn’t put it down.

In With or Without Her, Dorothy shares the inspiring story of the lives she and Deane built together, and the struggle to rebuild her life without Deane. She tells the story with the tenderness of a poet and the insight of a journalist.

Two humans born from the same fertilised egg, alike in every way: identical twins are a fascination. Two people bound to one another by appearance and matching DNA. The relationship is deep, powerful and complex.

Dorothy and her sister Deane were identical twins and soul mates. Though they struggled to be both best friends and separate individuals, they were intimate, bonded for 32 years by their similarities.

Loss of a parent, a sibling or a child is always difficult, but with Deane’s murder, Dorothy lost part of herself, her other half. She found herself struggling to live without the person who had always been her second self.

I enjoyed the way Dorothy weaved her way through her life backwards and forwards from her childhood, back to the dark days as her sister died, backwards and forwards and then onwards into the future where she discovers herself and her twin again.

I know my friends who have lost their twin will find this book moving and in it you will read your own story too. Thank you Dorothy for reaching inside yourself and writing this despite the pain of having to go back into the traumatic past to show us the way to outlast grief, to wade beyond it to be still a twin, with or without her.

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Beginning with the End ~a memoir of twin loss & healing by Mary R. Morgan

It is always exciting to hear when someone writes a new book about their experience of the loss of a twin. Mary R. Morgan’s book came out in May this year and when my copy arrived in my mailbox I could not wait to find the time and space to settle down and read her account of the loss of her twin brother Michael. Michael had mysteriously disappeared off the coast of southern  New Guinea some 50 years earlier and Mary has written the story of her journey through this loss in the subsequent years. I knew it would be the kind of book that once you opened it, you would not want to put it down again until the very last page. I was not wrong! I started reading one afternoon, I was early to pick up the kids from school and I got a good way into it but I knew I should have waited until I had more time. The next time I opened it up I read until the end.

This is a story of loss, the long denial of the loss of a twin, the acknowledgement of his death, the allowing of him to be free, and then finally, the discovery that he had always been part of her journey in the end. It is an honest account of what this twinship and loss had meant in Mary’s life and how it had played out throughout it in the relationships around her. It is the story of the slow process of putting back together, of re-discovery and of building a new relationship with a twin brother.

Mary writes: “My own bereavement was unnecessarily long and protracted. Especially as a twin, I found no healing in separation. In making new connection, we break the isolation. Sharing our experiences with others, we form community. Our arms make a circle that can hold the loss, allowing it to be met safely, allowing for understanding, for listening, for being heard, for being present. In connection, we can bear witness to the necessary process of falling apart and the small steps of coming back together into new form and into new life. By writing and sharing this book, I take my place and invite you into a larger circle of healing connection.”

I believe this book will help those who have experienced the loss of their twin most especially but it is for anyone who has been shattered by deep personal grief, those for whom their experience has been unacknowledged or misunderstood and it will help in the journey of putting oneself back together.

 

MARY R. MORGAN is a licensed psychotherapist specialising in working with twinless twins. She lectures on the subject of twin loss and has led a bereavement group for twins whose twin died in the 9/11 World trade Center disaster. She is presently on sabbatical writing a new book for grief counselors, which explores the unique treatment issues facing grieving twins. Ms Morgan is also the executive producer of two forthcoming documentaries on the myth of gene and the risks of genetic engineering. She is married and lives in New York State. She has three children and seven grandchildren. For more information visit:

www.beginningwiththeend.com

From a Clear Blue Sky

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I first read an account of the loss of Timothy’s twin brother Nicholas many years back when I first started this group. It came in an envelope sent to me full of copies of old newspaper articles and other interesting twin loss information that had been collected together. Timothy had done an interview for a newspaper in England back in 1989 to coincide with the first meeting of a group of surviving twins which would become The Lone Twin Network which still exists today. I was fascinated and touched by his story of losing his twin. He and a family group were on board the Shadow V which was blown up by the IRA in August of 1979 killing his grandfather Lord Mountbatten, his grandmother, a young boy helping on the boat that day and significantly, his own twin Nicholas. His parents and himself were left badly injured. This was the first account I had read of someone who had lost his twin after spending their early years together. It gave me a beautiful picture of their life together as twins before that fateful day. Until then I only had known the experience of loss around the time of birth. In this book, Timothy himself had a similar experience when he met another lone twin for the first time (who in the end became his best and closest friend). David had lost his twin a little later in life and shared, to Timothy’s fascination, about how their lives had gone on to become more separate due to their changing lives and that intrigued Timothy who had only known twinhood to be two lives lived in parallel. He had never spent more than a few days apart from Nicky in his whole life. He wondered what would have it been like had they been able to carry on into this phase of life until them.The article was written some 10 years after the tragedy and as I read the book, it was clearly only the early days of recovering from this loss.

The setting was in Ireland, a place that the family loved and enjoyed for holidays year after year but after the bombing, most of the family found the idea of returning so very hard. Timothy on the other hand felt that one day, he would have to come back and find peace and healing there and so this book traces the history leading to the event and then the 25 years following when Timothy began to piece his life together without his twin Nicholas. Timothy had been badly injured and was not aware of Nicholas’s death until three days after the accident. He had not been able to attend the funeral in England and he had never said goodbye to Nicky in the way he would have liked. To go back to Ireland and explore the places and the people and relive in a way such a painful event, brought amazing healing to Timothy.

I found this book to be one of the most powerful and touching twin loss accounts I have ever read and would be helpful to anyone on a grief journey to understand how in the most tragic loss one can discover healing and how one man managed this.

Timothy writes: I finished my paperwork and walked into the bathroom. I was squeezing toothpaste onto my brush when I looked into the mirror and saw my face for the first time since seeing Nicky’s in the photographs. We were still identical and I broke down utterly. It was exactly the release I needed.
If my own children ever suffer bereavement when still young, I will urge them, once they are ready, actively to mourn. If it is what they want, I will encourage them to grapple with trauma in close up and slow motion and from every angle they desire until the box of unresolved grief unlocks for them. This is no prescription for good recovery and for some people it might be the opposite of what they need. But for me it provided more than therapy, it was liberation.

For me, this book was gripping from the very first pages and I was so glad to have found a quiet weekend to read uninterrupted.

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Baby Gone -true NZ stories of infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth & infant loss compiled by Jenny Douche

It is commonly estimated that one in six couples are unable to conceive, one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage, and 600 babies are stillborn or die soon after birth each year. The experience can be the most traumatic thing that couples ever go through. It is also very lonely and isolating. Many are desperate to read other people’s local and recent stories in order to gain comfort, however there are very few New Zealand stories available in published form. Baby Gone contains 45 true stories, written from the heart by those affected. The stories give moving accounts about the conception and pregnancy experiences, but perhaps most importantly, they talk of the emotional roller-coaster that is life after loss. The stories will help readers see that they are not alone in their feelings, and that they are not going crazy.

Baby Gone is compiled by Jenny Douché. In September 2010 Jenny put a call for stories out to the New Zealand public. Over 100 stories were received and 45 were chosen for the book. This book is readily available in bookshops and online.

The Lone Twin by Joan Woodward

Twins hold fascination for people. We are intrigued by their closeness. But what happens when twins are separated, especially by death? Twin mortality is high, but it is not uncommon for a lone twin’s loss at any age to go unmarked. They need extra help and support to take them through the loss of their “other half”. The loss of a twin can be devastating to the survivor.

Working as an attachment therapist, Joan Woodward uses John Bowlby’s theories as her conceptual base. She suggests that the highly significant attachment that twin frequently make with each other may begin for twins before birth. She takes the reader through their closeness and on to the experience of death and bereavement. The book includes parental attitudes to the surviving twin, the surviving twin’s guilt, the ability to cope and the effect of loss in childhood and adulthood. Of particular interest, perhaps, are those who lost their twin at birth. Throughout, the book is illustrated by words of surviving twins: affecting accounts of bereavement.

This is an important and rare book for many professionals -counsellors, psychotherapists, social workers, psychologists and teachers -who come into contact with bereaved twins and yet have little understanding of the dynamics of twinship and twin loss. Written in jargon-free language, it is also for the twins themselves, their families, parents and friends.

This book gives lone twins the chance for the first time. to have their voices heard, and professionals the opportunity to develop more effective ways of supporting them.

Joan Woodward, herself a lone twin, is a psychotherapist based in Birmingham, England. She is a founder of the Lone Twin Network, an organisation that enables lone twins to contact each other and share their experiences.

Always My Twin by Valerie Samuels

Always My Twin,  is a book for any child whose twin died before birth, after birth or as a young child. The story is based on the author’s own experience of losing a newborn twin daughter in 2002. The book tells the story through the eyes of a young girl whose twin sister dies shortly after their births. She begins her story with sharing the womb with her twin, the joy of her family anticipating the arrival of twins, the family’s pain of losing one of their precious babies, and her own expressions of grief for her twin’s death. The surviving twin also shares with the audience the precious ways in which she and her family remember her twin throughout the year. Included are interactive pages for the reader to respond to with pictures, identifying feelings and providing family information.

Heartache, healing and hope are evident through the author’s words and the illustrator’s artwork in telling the story of loss and love. Whether twins were identical or fraternal, separated by death at birth or years later, Always My Twin will find a special place in the hearts of surviving twin children and their families.

About the Author

In April 2002, Valerie gave birth to full term twin daughters Gina and Julia Samuels. Her daughter Gina, born with Trisomy 13 and Holoprosencephaly, lived for 9 days before she died in her mother’s arms, but not in her mother’s heart. Valerie wrote Always My Twin for daughter Julia and other children whose twin died before birth, after birth, or as a young child.

I believe this very special book will provide young surviving twins and their families with opportunities for healing and creating memories of their own to cherish.

In 2003 Valerie founded “A Mother’s Heart” Ministry which offers support to parents who have experienced the death of their baby due to miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death. Valerie lives in Maryland with her husband Eugene and their five surviving children; Kenneth, Justin, Caira, Rachel and Julia.

The Survivor by Lynne Schulz

In her second book on twin loss, Lynne Schulz skillfully weaves together poignant anecdotes and professional advice to guide parents in raising surviving multiples. Schulz fills a critical unmet need as no existing books address in detail the challenge of nurturing survivors’ emotional health while keeping the memories of equally desired siblings alive. She includes comments from bereaved parents and adult surviving multiples throughout the book. After reviewing parental grief, the author presents a thought provoking survey of behaviours observed in young survivors.

Strengths of this volume include creative advice for remembering the enduring relationship with deceased co-multiples, advocacy for survivors’ special needs, and the oft-overlooked surviving triplets and higher order multiples.

Recurring moments of sadness, inevitable when survivors reach milestones, are viewed from the positive perspective of celebrating the survivor while understandably remembering those who are missing. A discussion of non-Western ideas of twinship illustrates the universal recognition of the uniqueness of multiples and the special attention sometimes paid to their death. resources and recommendations for parents of surviving multiples and professionals round out a well-researched book that is essential reading for parents of surviving multiples and professionals or educators who work with them.

Beth Pector.

Lynne Schulz is founder/co-ordinator of Murraylands Twin Loss, based in Murray Bridge, South Australia. Lynne is a volunteer bereavement counselor and educator, a karate instructor, as well as the author of the book, The Diary. The survivor continues the story of twin loss and higher order multiple loss issues, examining in detail the effects upon both survivors and their families as the survivors progress through childhood and adolescence.

An essential addition to The Diary and a ‘must have’ for anyone even slightly curious about the behavioural patterns of these unique and very special people!