I’ve had some pretty terrible things said to me since losing Phoenix. I know people were not trying to be hurtful but believe me some of the things said with the best of intentions were some of the most painful.
If you don’t know what to say to a grieving friend then remember this: being there with a hot meal, a big hug, and a moment of quiet could be the greatest gift.
I know for myself there were many times in the midst of my deep pain and grief that what I needed most was not words but the comfort of another’s presence.
Here are some of the most hurtful things people have said to me. And I share them to encourage those who have not lost a child, particularly a twin, to be careful with your words.
1) “Now you can finally focus on your other twin”
Actually, my attention is more divided and possibly more focused than ever. Because every time I see my living twin I’m reminded of my twin who died. Every birthday, holiday, family photo is now a bittersweet reminder of what I’m missing.
And this might be a bit shocking but let’s look at it this way. If you had your second child three years after your first which of your two kids would you be okay with dying so you could more fully focus on your still living child?
Sounds crazy doesn’t it? Having twins and losing one doesn’t change how insentive and ridiculous it is to say “now you can focus”.
My love for my child didn’t change because she died. My love for my surviving child didn’t change because she continued living. I love them both and am focused on them fully; including the child I lost because I know more than ever what I’m missing.
2) “Your living twin looks like so and so relative/friend”
This is hard because we want to hear that our living twin looks like the twin we lost, not someone else. And no matter how they looked in sonograms or during their lifetime (regardless of how long or short) I will always see both of my twins when I look at my living twin.
3) “My pet died just like your baby died so I understand what you’re going through”
Even if your pet died from kidney failure like Phoenix did that doesn’t even come close to making it where you understand. I carried Phoenix in my womb. I felt her kicks. I gave birth to her. She was part of me. I helped create her. A dead pet doesn’t even come close to my dead child.
4) “At least you still have one”
This is pretty similar to my first point and just as hurtful. I spent months dreaming and planning for two. I bought two cribs, two car seats, two coming home outfits. My child died. It’s not an “at least” situation. It’s an “I’m so sorry for your loss. Your baby will not be forgotten” situation.
I look at my surviving twin and I see my child who passed and all of the amazing things she should have been and experienced. And I grieve for my living twin because she is missing out on the amazing twin relationship that I see with other twins.
I still have three daughters. I still have five children. I still have two sets of twins. One is just forever 3 weeks old. And we are all missing a huge part of our family.
5) “You aren’t a real twin mom”
I haven’t heard this since having the boys because people can now physically see twins. But friends, I became a “real” twin mom the moment two baby girls started growing in my womb. Losing one doesn’t change that part of who I am.
That would be like telling me I’m no longer a “real” daughter simply because my mom died.
Losing my daughter (and my mom) did not change my names. I am still a daughter. I am still a twin mom.
And having a second set of twins with both babies living doesn’t finally validate my status as a twin mom.
I am a twin mom.
Silence can truly be golden.