HOW EXTENDED FAMILY OR ACQUAINTANCES CAN RESPOND TO MULTIPLE BIRTH LOSS, compiled by Elizabeth A. Pector, M.D.:

 

1.††† Some parents may appreciate a card saying "Congratulations on the birth of your twins/triplets" with a notation of condolence inside. If there are survivors, consider sending two separate cards (one for congratulations, one for sympathy) or a handwritten note mentioning both events. Ignoring the loss, or avoiding acknowledgement of the event altogether due to feeling awkward, can worsen the bereaved parentsí burden.

 

2.††† Consider, instead of sending flowers, donating to a charity in †††††††† the name of the lost baby.Some parents are overwhelmed by ††††††††† flowers, which are something else to take care of that dies too ††††††† soon.

 

3.††† Know that any surviving children are still twins, triplets etc.

††††† Parents usually call them survivors of the original number. †††††

 

4.††† Parents should be asked what they want done with duplicate

††††† clothing, double strollers, extra cribs, gifts for the deceased child, etc. Many parents want to keep such items in memory of †††† their lost child(ren). Others would rather put away or give away †††† these items. Itís thoughtful to donate unwanted gifts in the ††††††† deceased childís name to a charitable organization, or ††††††††††††† arrange for sale through a Mothers of Twins/Multiples Club so †††††††† the parents donít need to make that contact. Donít try to guess †††††††† the parentsí desires in these matters, because a mistaken but †††††† well-intended action might be seen as uncaring or insensitive.

 

5.††† Any personalized or handmade items (blankets, crocheted or †††††††††††† knitted clothing, posters, artwork or cross-stitch work), ††††††††††††† especially those which include a deceased babyís name, may †††††††††††† become a treasured keepsake for the bereaved family. Present it ††††† to the family in memory of the lost child, and if it is refused, †††††† save it for a future occasion when the family might want it ††††††† (e.g. first birthday or death anniversary).Such items ††††††††††††††† shouldnít be later given to another child in the extended †††††††† family. The bereaved parents will think their lost baby ††††††††††††††† is being forgotten and its gifts callously recycled.

 

6.††† The deceased child(ren)ís name(s) should be respected as a †††††††††††† permanent part of the bereaved family, especially if there are

survivors.The name(s) will be used often within that family. Children of extended family members, friends or neighbors born later who are given the same name(s) will constantly †††† remind bereaved parents of their loss.People considering using †† the name of a parentís deceased multiple should discuss it with the grieving parents first, asking their feelings and permission rather than announcing it as a final decision. Naming a child in honor of a deceased multiple is a sweet idea, but make sure the bereaved parents are fully accepting, aware that it will be a lifelong reminder of their lost child.

 

7.                                        Be aware that encountering intact sets of multiples is painful to bereaved multiple birth parents. They donít want to hear other multiple-birth stories just because theyíve experienced multiple pregnancy. It merely reminds them of their failure to bring all of their own babies home. Don't pressure parents into attending social situations with twin encounters that they will find difficult, or tell them to suppress their feelings out of consideration for others. Parents need time and patience to learn to deal with ďClose Encounters of the Twin Kind.Ē Try to forgive apparent rudeness, envy, avoidance & tears if youíre a parent of multiples, or a multiple, yourself. With time, grieving parents will handle reminders better.

 

8.                                        Avoid platitudes. One mother newly diagnosed with a twin pregnancy told her friend who'd lost a twin, "God gave me twins to help you through your loss." This was not helpful.

 

9.                                        Carefully review the comments following in IX.Immediately after their child's death, most parents want loved ones to admit their child's death is tragic, listen to their mixed-up feelings when they need to talk, and help them get practical things done that they cannot manage themselves for physical or emotional reasons.Parents' self-esteem has often been shattered by what for many is the most devastating event in their lives.They may need advocates to help them get what they need from hospitals, funeral homes, insurance companies or other bureaucracies, since they may be too distraught to fight for themselves.Support them through the ups & downs of their grief process.Realize it will probably take a few years for them to work through this major trauma; for some it may be even longer.With help from family, friends, peers and sometimes professionals, they can heal, but will heal with a scar. They will never be the same as they used to be.Expect them to include the children who died as part of their family history in some way.In one mother's words, "I'm moving on, but I'm taking my baby with me."

 

Distressing comments try to minimize or shorten grief; explain the death in spiritual terms; or encourage parents to look on the bright side because things could have been worse.Understanding this, try your best to avoid the "Donít Say" comments listed in IX, or if you do slip, apologize to the parents, since they probably heard you anyway.Realize actions will speak louder than words in the long run.


IX.††††††††††††††††††††

DO SAY:

Iím so sorry to learn of your child's death.

I'm happy you have your survivor, but also very sad one baby died.

I donít know what to say.

Iím here to listen whenever you need to talk.

Is there anything I can do for you?Anyone I can call?

I canít imagine how you must feel.Please tell me.

This must be hard for you.

DONíT SAY:

At least you still have one (two, or however many) left.

At least you wonít go home empty-handed.

At least the baby was a twin, otherwise your grief would be so much worse.

At least you will always have a reminder in his/her twin.

Since one of your twins died early in utero, itís really just a ††††††††††††† single pregnancy now.

Arenít you over it yet? After all, you do have an(other) one(s).

Donít be selfish.Be thankful you still have one, and get over it.

See the glass as half full, not half empty.

Focus on the living, your survivorís still critical and needs you.

Get over your grief, your survivor(s) will sense something wrong.

Donít project your grief on the survivor(s), theyíre fine & happy.

At least you have other children at home.

It was only a baby.

You can always have another baby (or try again).

Things happen for a reason.††

It was for the best.

You would really have your hands full if all the babies survived.

Humans weren't meant to have litters.

God must have known youíd only be able to handle one baby.

God never gives you something you canít handle.

God meant for this to happen (or It was Godís will.)

Count your blessings.

††††† You had your priorities out of line and wanted your babies more than

††† †††††† you wanted God, and thatís why he took them.

You must have known this could happen, they were so premature.

You knew he was going to die.

The baby would have been handicapped/had major problems

†††††††††† if she survived, so youíre lucky this happened now.

I'll bet you're glad you don't have to bother with the other one now.

Itís better it happened now and not months or years from now when ††††††††††† you really would have been attached.

You never know what would have happened if they lived; they might ††††††††††† have gotten cancer, a serious illness, or died in an accident.

You donít need to nurse your survivor so much.Itís not like

†††††††††† you still need enough milk for twins. (said by nurse)

All the other triplets delivered here survived!

Think of the money you'll save!