If you are reading this article as a bereaved parent, I am deeply sorry for your loss. I know that there are no words that will ever truly encapsulate the loss of a child. Please use the information below to gather resources to help you navigate your loss, to provide education for your friends and family, and most importantly, to know that you are not alone.
Our society knows how to respond when a person loses a parent or a partner, but pregnancy and infant loss is often a hidden grief. There are no automatic rituals, like bringing casseroles or attending a service. No one gathers to share fond memories, because at times the only memories that exist are those captured in grainy black and white photos and the remembered feeling of tiny kicks. While it may feel that you are isolated and that your grief is not recognized, please know that approximately one in four pregnancies ends in loss. One in four families are grieving alongside you. One in four families hold whatever memories they have of their little ones close to their heart, even if they don’t always speak of them out loud. Healing is a lifelong process and, no matter where you are in your journey, please know that you are heard, that your emotions are valid, and that there are others who will celebrate these littlest lifetimes with you.
Loss with multiples
A pregnancy or infant loss involving multiples presents a level of complication that may be challenging to contend with on a number of levels. From logistical decisions that may need to be made regarding the continued health and safety of a pregnancy, to the difficult emotions that can arise from seeing a little one reflected in the faces of their surviving twin or triplets, many families benefit from the help of an experienced team, including medical professions, bereavement specialists, and support organizations. At a time when you may be overwhelmed or feel numb to the world, your team can support you in processing information and how it impacts your choices regarding your pregnancy, labor and delivery, postpartum period, and beyond. In fact for some families, some of the most difficult times happen after the first chaotic months; it can be exceptionally hard to process everything you’ve gone through, especially if you’re struggling to balance your grief over the loss of one child and joy over the birth of another. Having guidance and support as you attempt to reconcile all of your conflicting emotions is vital to help you and your family work through your experiences in a healthy way.
It’s ok to not know what to say
If you are a family member or friend of someone who has experienced the loss of one or more of their multiples, it can be a struggle to figure out how to be supportive. I often hear people say, “I don’t know what to say,” or “I don’t want to remind them,” so instead they say nothing. Be completely honest and say that you have no idea what to say, but that you’re here to listen or just sit quietly if they don’t want to be alone right now. There are no magical words, but not saying anything can be more hurtful; ask what the baby or babies names are, ask if you can bring over dinner one night, or ask if you can help take apart the second crib in the nursery if they’re not feeling up to it. You’re never going to be reminding a parent about the child or children that they’ve lost, they are always going to be on their mind. Above all, do not say anything that starts with “at least,” “you should,” or “you need to.” Grief cannot be measured or rushed and a child can never be forgotten, replaced, or “gotten over.” Providing emotional validation and a steady, loving presence is the best way to support someone you care about during this heartbreaking experience.
One special consideration to take into account with faced with a multiples pregnancy or infant loss is how to share this story with surviving twins or triplets. There is no correct way to approach the situation, but many families find ways to honor the sibling bond, even if they only knew each other in utero. From photos of all of your children together at birth, to family rituals that incorporate all members, there are a number of ways that survivors of all ages can learn about and honor their siblings. As those children grow, they may have questions or be looking for support of their own as they understand more about their personal story.
Your feelings are valid
The loss of a child or children is an all-encompassing, life-altering experience. Grief is not a linear process and each person will express their emotions differently, so please know that however you are feeling is valid. Find the people that will provide you with unconditional support and help you honor the memory of your little ones.
About the author
Emily Lindblad is Twin Love Concierge’s and Three Birds Family Education & Postpartum Care’s Postpartum Doula and Certified Newborn Care Specialist – providing perinatal support and education to Massachusetts families of multiples and Triplet parents worldwide. Emily is also the mother of triplets and knows first-hand that welcoming multiple newborns can be a daunting task. By providing practical tools and assistance, Emily provides families with the skills and confidence needed to successfully transition to life with twins, triplets, or more. For more information on our Triplet and Boston classes /services or to contact Emily, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Grief resources and support specifically for families of multiples
Grief resources and support for surviving multiples
Support prior to, during, and after birth in any trimester and subsequent pregnancies
Bereavement photography organization
Personal stories of pregnancy and infant loss
Resources and peer support
Resources, support, and peer mentorship
Resources, education, and peer support
Resources for pregnancy complications and pregnancy and infant loss
Counseling, advocacy, research, and education
Pregnancy loss peer support and education
Support, education, and assistance