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TTSGI Regional Meeting

Our chilly winter weather gave way to the Santa Ana winds which warmed the air to a balmy 75 degrees at the beach as we welcomed Twinless Twins into our home for an afternoon of camaraderie and healing on February 7th. As we always do, we invited the twins to bring their support person to our gatherings—for a couple of reasons: to allow the twin a level of comfort as they walk into a room of perhaps uncertainty and to allow the support person an avenue to learn how to help the twin.

It was wonderful to have twins that we’ve met before come together: Michael, twin to Joseph; Lea, twin to Eve; Amy, twin to Andrea (estranged); and we welcomed Rhoda, twin to Ruth to her first meeting. After our introductions, we had a potluck lunch and found out more about each other. Then we broke into two groups: The Twins went into a quiet gathering and the support people (Susan came to support Lea and Linda came to support Rhoda) were led to the beach by Rick (my support) for their time of talking and bonding.

The time with the twins, as always, was rewarding. Yes, there were some tears, but those are stepping stones to healing. We talked about ways to take care of ourselves and how to deal with the grieving process. And what our ‘new’ way of life is all about.

I read the history of the Apache Tear—where they came from and their meaning and why we may want to use them. In summary, these stones are powerful to heal someone from feeling grief and emotional distress. Each twin was given an Apache Tear to hold and make it ‘their own’ to take home.

We talked about how grief is a process that is always in motion. We talked about how our twins lived for thousands of days and passed in only one of those days and how it is important to celebrate the thousands of days. And most importantly, we recognized that moving on is not a betrayal of our twins or their memory.

Thank you, Twins, for coming to our February meeting and sharing the afternoon with us.

By Debe, twin to Carol

In Memoriam: Betty Jean Case

Betty Jean Case passed away peacefully on Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 2015, in Portland, Oregon, at the age of 96. She was born November 13, 1919, with her twin sister Fay. Betty was the proud grandmother of twin boys and had twin brothers, so her curiosity of twin relationships and behavior inspired a research project that would result in three published books, including Living Without Your Twin and an offer to appear on Oprah. Her works took her all over the world for speaking engagements providing insight and comfort to twins everywhere.

A Tribute to Betty Jean Case
By Miriam Brandt-Doetsch

I feel privileged to have been a friend of Betty Jean Case and her husband, Dr. Laurel Case. They attended the first Twinless Twins Conference ever held in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, home of the founder Dr. Raymond Brandt, my late husband. She had come to Indiana for the express purpose of talking “twin loss” with Raymond. She, herself, an identical twin whose twin was still alive, had written books on being a twin, but wanted to research and write about twin loss. And, who better to talk with than Dr. Brandt! Both of them were twins. Dr. Brandt lost his twin at age 21 but Betty Jean’s sister was still living.

During that first meeting, they spent hours discussing the difference between survival and loss. And, out of that meeting and subsequent meetings as well as phone conversations, they began to write articles for magazines and books on “twin loss”. Talking about the problems that arise from twin loss was so new at the time and the two of them were passionate about researching and writing articles and books on their research in order to open the door for more conversation and future research on this subject.

Betty Jean was a very gracious, humble, giving lady. And I do mean lady. She was one you just enjoyed being with a lot. I visited her twice after Raymond’s death and though there were many years of age difference, we had such fun. She was so happy whenever I called, and she always made me feel happy and privileged just talking with her. Dr. Brandt so enjoyed our western trip to Oregon for both of them to work on their writings, but the four of us took a trip to the seacoast as well to the mountain where their son has a home. Not much writing but a lot of talk and deep friendship. Such a precious time.

She graciously gave Twinless Twins her copies and rights of her book, Living Without Your Twin. Many twinless have been helped with their grief because of her writings of such a dear topic to her, for she knew she would be twinless one day as well. Betty Jean once told me that besides being there for her family, she felt she had “fulfilled a need for being there for twins, something that the Lord placed in her heart.” I sincerely agreed.

Grieving and Coping with Loss over the Holidays

by Mary R. Morgan L.M.S.W.

For anyone experiencing the loss of a loved one, especially the loss of a twin, the holidays can represent a daunting challenge. The grief and the void we feel are accentuated as it is experienced in relation to the high expectations we have for loving interactions with family and friends. For a twin whose life has revolved around the other twin, holiday celebrations become even more challenging.

The death of your loved one may be experienced by other members of your family and by your loved one’s friends, however, it is important to understand that deep personal loss is unique to each individual, and the grieving process is experienced and expressed in many different ways. The grieving process also takes different lengths of time depending on the individual circumstance.

Listen for, honor, and believe in your individual experience and in your personal feelings. In doing that, you can move to be able to feel entitled to let go the expectations others have of you, as well as the expectations you might have for yourself during normal holiday celebrations. Craft a holiday time that fits the truth of where you are and supports your healing path. Holidays are a time of remembering. We heal in experiencing the emotional memory of our loved one’s life and our relationship to her or him, and by expressing those memories in some form. In that process, our loved one and/or our twin are honored and we slowly release the pain of the physical loss of his or her life.

Knowing that we heal in this necessarily challenging and often deeply painful way, and that the holidays will bring unfulfilled expectations and painful memories, how can we craft a holiday or meet a set holiday tradition in a way that is healing but not overwhelming? Here are a few thoughts:

  • Listen for and decide what you can comfortably handle and let your friends and family know your feelings. Try to make suitable changes in a family celebration, and if you are not able to do so, feel free to go to a different environment and create your own unique celebration where you can express your personal feelings.
  • Share your feelings with a close friend. Another person who is grieving or another twinless twin is in a unique position to understand.
  • Recognize your loved one’s presence in your family celebration. Someone suggested the wonderful idea of having a stocking for your loved one, where family members put in notes with their thoughts and feelings. Another suggested that you light a candle in your loved one’s memory. Have a family experience that incorporates doing something your loved one or twin especially enjoyed during the holidays.
  • Recognize that the grieving experience takes enormous personal and physical energy, especially during holidays. It is a step-by-step process. You are integrating the loss of someone who was of seminal importance to your life. Be kind to yourself. Pace yourself; get enough rest; do things when you are ready – not before.
  • Try to share and connect with others, with animals, with nature – healing takes place in connection with all forms of life.
  • If you are alone, try to get up the courage to do something entirely different this holiday – something that supports and honors your needs and spirit.
  • Healing is an up and down experience, especially during the holidays. If your feelings are happy, express them. In healing, you are honoring your loved one’s life. It is larger than their death.
  • Consider doing something for someone else. Touch someone else with your presence. It helped me to do this in my twin’s memory.

As we heal by expressing the emotional memories of our lost physical relationship, we begin to slowly experience these memories without pain. This happens also as we are slowly accepting the reality of the loss of our loved one as a physical presence in our lives. Most important, we realize that the essence of our relationship with them can remain with us. And, as we heal, holiday celebrations, like these memories, can once again become something we look forward to and enjoy. Our loved one/our twin is there in our hearts, nourishing our new connections and relationships. Their everlasting love remains with us as a gift.

A TTSGI Regional Meeting

mid-atlantic-meeting-background
While the TTSGI Annual Conference is the largest event held each year, one of the valuable benefits of being a member of TTSGI are the regional gatherings that take place throughout the year across the United States and Canada. Below is a summary from the last Mid-Atlantic Regional Meeting. Please check out the Events page on this website to see when and where the regional gatherings are being held. If you don’t see one in your area and would like to host please contact your Regional Coordinator using the website’s Contact Us form.

Mid-Atlantic Regional Meeting
by Michael, twin to Howard

The Mid-Atlantic Region of Twinless Twins met in Frederick, MD on Saturday, October 24. I only wish that all of you could have been there to experience, first-hand, this beautiful day in Frederick and the healing that took place as Twinless twins came together and experienced love, support, encouragement and hope. We gave this weekend to ourselves, as twins, to help us on our path toward healing.

Among the 14 twins that attended, we welcomed four new Twinless twins. A special thank you goes to Sandy, twin to Jim who lovingly supports us in so many ways, Jennifer, twin to Ellen, who volunteers to put our roster together for our meetings and to Ruth, twin to Rollyn, who volunteers to facilitate many of our meetings.

We held our morning meeting in the conference room of the Hampton Inn and began by introducing ourselves, sharing experiences from the 2015 National Conference in Nashville, TN and sharing plans for the 2016 National Conference to be held in Detroit. After a short break, with our chairs in a circle, we shared about our twin loss. Ruth, twin to Rollyn, introduced the group sharing and facilitated the group discussion. In that circle, we opened our hearts and shared while being surrounded by the comfort and support of other Twinless twins. Our motto, “healing by helping others” was witnessed by those in the circle. Four new Twinless twins each received a special “Angel of Remembrance” as a reminder of the weekend and as a reminder that they do not walk alone.

Then we held our candle-lighting, and read “We Remember Them” by Sylvan Kamens & Rabbi Jack Riemer
“At the rising of the sun and at its going down, We remember them.
At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter, We remember them.
At the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring, We remember them.
At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer, We remember them.
At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn, We remember them.
At the beginning of the year and when it ends, We remember them.
As long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us as we remember them.

When we are weary and in need of strength, We remember them.
When we are lost and sick at heart, We remember them.
When we have joy we crave to share, We remember them.
When we have decisions that are difficult to make, We remember them.
When we have achievements that are based on theirs, We remember them.
As long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us as, We remember them”

After our meeting, we went to a restaurant in Frederick and enjoyed being together and getting to know each other and the supporting guests who joined many of the new twins. What seemed like such a short time, had come to an end, but the time we spent together on that Saturday will always be remembered by the photos we still share from our meeting and the memories we carry with us.

We hope that if you have never had the opportunity to come to a regional meeting you will join us at our spring meeting in Frederick, MD. You will leave knowing that you have found a place of hope and will never walk alone.

Love, Joy, and Peace

Dear Twinless Twin,

The holiday season can be a time of celebration and also a time of feeling the immense loss of your twin. Know you are not alone – we are in this together. May your holiday be filled with many special memories of your twinship and in those memories; the sting of the loss is lessened.

For the twins who lost their twin early in life and have few or no vivid memories, know that the bonding that you had with your twin in-utero is special and profound. May you know more than ever that your twinship is valued and remarkable.

The Twinless Twins Support Group Intl. is so thankful for you. Sorry we have to be a part of this group. However, we are grateful our group understands the depth of the loss and grief.

Sincerely,

Twinless Twins Support Group, Intl.

Exploring Twin Bereavement

Mary R. Morgan, a twinless twin, recently shared about twin bereavement at the Columbia School of Social Work. You can watch the video recording below. Note: Fast forward the video and begin watching at 11 minutes.

Happy Holidays

Greetings Fellow Twinless Twins,

The winter issue of the Twinless Times Newsletter is in the mail on it’s way to TTSGI members! This issue is packed with wonderful stories, notes, updates from our Regions, book reviews, and a holiday message from our President. The newsletter is a great way to stay connected and keep on top of the happenings at TTSGI. Though we now have gone to our electronic newsletter for the spring through fall issues, we have kept the winter issue as one we mail to our members – we hope you enjoy! There have been some great additions to our TTSGI Store. Take a moment and check out the new TT swag, books, and various items offered just in time for holiday shopping. Make your purchase by December 17 to ensure its delivery before Christmas. This is another great way to support the organization.

The holidays, though exciting and filled with family and friends, can be a time that our twins are missed the most. The grief can be powerful and isolating. Remember you are not alone. We do holidays together as one big TT family. Please take advantage of the resources on this website. We have articles that you can download, recommended books, and resources in our store for anyone to take advantage of. For TTSGI members, you have access to audio recordings of past conference speakers, as well as past newsletters that you can download. This information is there at your fingertips available when you need it most.

Though we are months away, the planning of the 2015 conference is in full swing. Please make plans to join us July 23-26, 2015 in Nashville, TN. The conference is open to all TTSGI members and their guests. The Keynote speaker will be Mitch Carmody (top speaker for Compassionate Friends). This will be a weekend set aside for sharing, laughing, crying, learning, healing, and remembering our twins. Look for the latest information on the events page of our website.

Happy Holidays from your TTSGI Family!

In Despair, Time Is Endless

essay-parravani-pic
Christa Parravani, author of the memoir Her, recently wrote an essay for DAME Magazine. According to Parravni, “It’s about a time I nearly bought a gun and used it. It’s about more than that, of course. It’s about surviving the desire that nearly killed me. It’s about living.”

On the eve of Thanksgiving, 2007, I ingested 90 pale-blue pills imprinted with the identifier: Lilly 4415. It is a testament to the healing power of years that I no longer remember the design of the drug, the dose, or its true name. My killing pill lives in the same category of memory as the fragrant flowers Mom planted beside my identical twin sister Cara’s and my childhood driveway. Freckled tangerine sepal lilies grew so tall over the asphalt that they bowed to their shadows. Those lilies brushed softly against our Corvair’s passenger side door, a patting whispered drum that both greeted and sent us off. In the remembrance of my suicide attempt, I tether the beginning and wished for end of my life into a circle that thankfully was not forever fused. Now they live together in the same time.

To read the entire essay, visit: http://www.damemagazine.com/2014/09/09/despair-time-endless

Remembering Darcie Sims

pictures of darcie sims

Darcie Sims, Ph.D, was a bereaved parent and child and a grief management specialist. She was a nationally certified thanatologist, a certified pastor bereavement specialist, and a licensed psychotherapist and hypnotherapist. She was the author of many books and produced multiple vidoes, including the award-winning video series Good Grief. She was an internationally recognized speaker and Editor for the Bereavement magazine, as well as a writer for Grief Digest. She was also president and co-founder of GRIEF, Inc. The impact Darcie had on countless lives was astounding.

The impact she had, and continues to have, on the Twinless Twins Support Group Intl. is one that has rescued many from the painful journey of grief. Darcie had a way of bringing joy and hope into the darkest places. It is hard to believe that a twinless twin would ever laugh when talking about grief and loss. But that is just what we were able to do when Darcie was our keynote conference speaker. Darcie’s real-life approach to grief allowed us to feel sane. Her wit and candor were refreshing at a time when many of us desperately needed it. Though not a twinless twin herself, she had a way of understanding and being sensitive to our unique loss. We felt safe and understood and most importantly loved.

Darcie used to say, “May love be what you remember most.”  These words describe exactly how we will remember Darcie. She was a woman of strength and beauty and she will forever be missed.

You can hear Darcie Sims on Good Mourning for free. Click Here.

2013 Conference – Los Angeles, CA

group photo of twinless twins

Twinless twins traveled as far away as Trinidad & Tobago, UK, Canada and across the US to Los Angeles, CA to be a part of the Annual Twinless Twins Conference. Over 40% of the twinless twins that attended were first time attendees, with some having lost their twin just weeks before. It was clearly obvious at the close of the first night of the conference that this event was a place where true healing could happen. There were conversations taking place, hugs freely given, tears shed, and small moments of laughter as stories were shared. The immediate connections twinless twins made with one another was unmatchable.

The night of the memorial walk was absolutely beautiful, where twinless twins walked in memory of their beloved twin. There were about 100 of us, all together. The ones that walked in front carried the banner, which had signatures and messages of love and remembrance from all the twinless twins attending the conference. As the twinless walked together in the large group down the boardwalk in Santa Monica, one of our group’s motto came to mind, “You are not alone”. You could see friendships had been formed.

The smaller parallel groups were really good as they allowed the twinless who were less inclined to share in the larger group be able to tell their story. The groups were divided into type of loss (sudden loss, early loss, lingering illness, etc.). This was good as it allowed the groups to share the specifics and connect on a deeper level as it related to specific losses. The parallel groups were two hours long and when the time was up it felt like it had just started. Deep and profound bonding had taken place in that time.

It is amazing to see the alumni come back to support the hurting, raw, newly bereaved twinless twins. Having the alumni present at the conference offers hope. They are surviving and moving forward in their grief while remembering their twin. One of the most common sayings from an alumni is, “It wont be like this forever. It does get better…” This is something that seems impossible to new twinless twins, so having the experience and support of the alumni was critical in helping the twinless heal.

It was a well attended and extremely healing conference. Click here to view photos!

We look forward to next year where we can reconnect with our twinless friends and take more steps towards healing. The 2014 Annual Conference will be held in Maryland. Dates are being looked at and planning has already begun – We hope to see you in July of 2014!!