Coping with the Loss of Twins or Multiples

The medical risks for twins and multiples are much higher than for singleton children. This can sometimes result in the devastating loss of one or more multiples. This may happen while the babies are still in the womb. Other times, they don’t survive a premature birth. Or a multiple may die later due to complications from a chronic condition, such as a heart problem or genetic disorder. All these deaths can be equally heart-breaking to the expectant parents. The Center for Loss in Multiple Birth (CLIMB) has many publications available for parents and families who have experienced the death of one or more multiples. (Many can be downloaded from their website at www.climb-support.org.) Following are some suggestions from their publication, The Death of Your Twin or Triplet Babies, for parents who are grieving the loss of one or more multiples:

  • If their children passed away at the hospital, parents should be allowed all the time they need to hold their babies and say good-bye. Although this is painful, most parents say later that they were glad they spent this time with their children.

  • Take photos and videotapes of the babies that can be viewed later. Dress the children in lovely clothes and have all medical items removed from the area.

  • Give names to the babies, which can be helpful in grieving for and remembering the babies later.

  • If one or more children survived, some parents send out combined birth/memorial announcements. Samples are available on the CLIMB site.

  • Find out if the babies were identical or fraternal, which can provide important medical and genetic information about living or future babies.

  • Parents should consider joining an infant loss support group, where they will find people who understand what they are going through. Or make contact with other parents who have lost children through the CLIMB site.

  • Parents may wish to find a unique way to honor their lost children, such as planting trees in their honor or wearing special jewelry with the babies’ names.

If you are grieving the loss of multiples or a child who was one of multiples, I strongly suggest that you contact CLIMB. From their site: “Our mission is and has always been to ensure that none of us who have found ourselves on the tragic side of the higher risks for twins and higher multiples needs to feel truly alone or like the only one, no matter what the loss or the circumstances. We do this by ensuring that bereaved multiple birth parents have the same opportunities other bereaved parents need and want: to read materials that relate to what we are going through, to talk to others who we know truly do understand, and to gain information that in some way relates to our loss and the challenges we are facing as people and as parents.”

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About Susan Heim

Susan M. Heim is an author and editor, specializing in multiples, parenting, women’s and Christian issues. Her books include "Boosting Your Baby's Brain Power"; "Chicken Soup for the Soul: Twins and More"; "It’s Twins! Parent-to-Parent Advice from Infancy Through Adolescence"; "Twice the Love: Stories of Inspiration for Families with Twins, Multiples and Singletons"; and, "Oh, Baby! 7 Ways a Baby Will Change Your Life the First Year." Upcoming books include "Chicken Soup for the Soul: All in the Family," "Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Women," and "Moms of Multiples' Devotions to Go." Susan's articles and essays have appeared in many books, magazines and Web sites. She is a member of the National Association of Women Writers and the Southeastern Writers Association, and has a degree in Business Administration from Michigan State University. Susan lives with her husband and four sons (two teenagers and twin grade-schoolers) in Florida.