My Detroit 2016 Conference Experience
By Janet, twin to Margaret
The Detroit 2016 Conference began on Thursday, which is meetings day for the Board and Regional Coordinators. I had breakfast first, in the dining room. There was a wide selection of hot and cold foods and I had fruit, yoghurt, freshly cooked omelet and tea. The Regional Coordinator meeting went on until lunch time then we had a shared lunch with the board before a meeting with them. Afterwards, I joined up with my twin pal Jennifer and we had dinner with Sandy and Paul before we all registered for the conference. This year the conference shirts were turquoise and very smart. We went into the new twins meeting and introduced ourselves. President Ray gave an address and welcomed everyone. We had desserts and drinks; then I went to bed early, hoping to sleep.
Friday was the first real day of the conference. I had an early breakfast with some of the twins before Inspirations at 8am. Afterwards we all went to opening of the conference in the big room. The keynote speech was given by Alicia Sims, daughter of Darcie Sims, the well know grief therapist who has spoken at conference on two occasions. The room was captivated by her positive approach to grief. Her message was that if we honour the life of our twins, we can look at anniversaries and significant dates more positively.
After Alicia’s address, we had a break before the self-introduction time. Lunch was at 11:45am and this year it wasn’t the usual boxed lunch with sandwiches and fruit, etc. We had an express buffet lunch in the hotel dining room for $15. Break out options were available at 1:30pm for those twins who preferred an alternative to the continued self-introduction sessions. I went to the writing class, but there was also a session for parents of twinless twins. Board member Dena facilitated our writing session, which was based on telling our twin stories. Dena shared with us a technique of writing where you look at a story from different character’s points of view.
We left the sessions to change for the twin memorial walk. As we boarded the yellow school bus which took us to the start, I marveled at the progress the returning twins had made. I looked around at the new twins boarding the bus and saw how they had already made twin friends and how they were smiling more. The magic of the conference was working.
Those walking found the circular mile walk challenging, but we were proud to be carrying a banner signed by all the twins, in memory of our lost twins. There were water stops and energy bars stops, all provided by Executive Director’s Michelle’s lovely relatives.
After the walk, we gathered in the grassy area of the park for the balloon release. We wrote messages to our twins and after Conference Committee member Sandra read an address, we all released them to the soundtrack of Tell Your Heart to Beat again. As our balloons soared off into the blue Detroit sky, it was unbearably moving. Back on the bus, we traveled the short distance to the Marriott to shower and change, ready for a meal out or in. My twin pal Susan had arranged for a group of us to go to the highly recommended deli Zimmerman’s, down in Detroit.
Saturday started early with breakfast and then Inspirations at 8am. Sandy’s choice of music was moving, as she ended with Alan Pederson’s track ‘Thanks for the Little While.’ The business meeting followed, when we heard the exciting news that the 2017 conference will be held in Arizona! After financial news, we moved on to the second keynote session with Alicia. It was very funny and clever, as she explored how our different personality types affect how we deal with our grief. Lunch followed, another Buffet with an Italian theme.
More breakout options were available after lunch. These included Suicide, Murder, Lingering Illness, Early Loss, Sudden/Accident under 18 and Sudden / Accident adult. Also a session for Family and Friends. I went to lingering loss. It was a large group so Venice divided us up into those beginning their loss, those just managing it and those who were coping and managing to honour their twins.
The closing ceremony was at 3:30 PM. Alicia ran this and it was immensely moving. We were all given a band and beads and we chose five for our twins to represent their qualities and attributes. We kept one bead back and put it into a large plastic jar which Alicia took round. As we put our beads in, we said our twin’s name and also the quality of our twin represented by the bead. Alicia went round again and we all chose a bead from another twin, an unknown quality. We threaded these on our bangles.
As always, the conference finished with a magnificent banquet. This year we had a buffet meal with hot salmon and chicken. There were speeches and awards, with the coveted Angel Award going to Joan, who works tirelessly as a RC for Minnesota and who also started a new twinless group in Seattle. We lifted the roof with our applause. The 50/50 raffle and auction followed, led by the incredible Dave. All too soon the evening was over and Detroit 2016 drew to an end.
The next morning we all went our separate ways, echoing our thanks to Michelle and Ray. As I sadly checked out, all I could think of was three words. Roll on Tucson!
As the Regional Coordinator for the TTSGI North Central region for the last seven years, I have helped twins connect with each other within a seven-state area: Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Even though I lead a busy life, as the owner of a personal chef company, I have often said, “This (being Regional Coordinator) is the most important thing that I do with my life.” When Jean died, from suicide in 1982, along with the intense grief, I also remember thinking, “at least now I know that the most difficult thing that could ever happen to me has already happened.” I still feel that today. My work with the Twinless Twins organization is my way of connecting and healing, and also of honoring Jean. When I help others, I help myself. More specifically, I feel that JEAN is helping others, through me. This is especially significant because of the fact that Jean took her own life. As horrendous as that was, I must recognize that some lives are better because of it. Her unspeakable act has also made the world a better place, through my work with TTSGI. It’s difficult to even put into writing, and more difficult to wrap my head around.
It’s been a long journey for me, one that changes throughout time. This year, my journey brought me to a new area Seattle. I offered to hold a regional meeting for TTSGI during my two-month stay there, as there is currently no Regional Coordinator for the Seattle area. Aided by past West Coast Regional Coordinator, Pamela, I began to assemble a list of potential attendees. Each day, I would cultivate the list, until it grew to sixty twins, from Seattle, Greater Washington state, Oregon and western Canada. It took quite a bit of time, but I had a lot of that. This was my effort of love, establishing connections, in person, by phone and by email, and it made me very proud. It filled much of my days, gave me purpose, and created a bigger twin “family” for me. I was also aided by Barb, who helped to find a meeting place for our group.
On March 6, 2016, at noon, thirteen twins and two spouses met at the Best Western Plus Executive Inn, near the Space Needle. Half a dozen or so of us met the night before, in the hotel lounge. We laughed and cried, and shared stories with strangers who are now forever family, until the security guard came over to quietly tell us that at 11:30 pm, it was now 1 ½ hours past the normal closing hour of 10 pm.
There is definitely a need for a Twinless Twin connection in the West Coast Region. If anyone is interested in volunteering, they can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Joan, twin to Jean
About Joan: Joan has been a member of TTSGI since 2007, and a Regional Coordinator since Fall 2009. She holds meetings in Minneapolis/St. Paul area about four times a year. Joan finds her twinless twins work very rewarding and healing, and a significant part of her life. At the 2016 TTSGI Conference, Joan received the Angel award for her work helping twins in her region and beyond.
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
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.
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!!
Our favorite time of the year is in July at our Annual Conference! Not sure if it gets better than a room full of Twinless Twins sharing and supporting one another. Some of the highlights for the 2013 conference weekend will be the keynote speaker Dr. Katherine Shear, our Memorial Walk on the beach and our small group time. Early registration ends on May 25th, so be sure to register by that deadline to get the discounted rate! It all begins Thursday night when you start to sense that the conference is more like a family reunion. If you are a twinless twin and have never attended, we invite you to come and heal with us! To all our alumni attendees, we can’t wait to see you again. If you’re an alumni attendee, we would love to hear some of your favorite conference memories!
Twinless Twins Support Group announces the 2012 Annual Conference Schedule of Speakers and Workshops, July 12-14.
Keynote speaker and bereavement specialist Darcie Sims speaks Friday on “Rebuilding Your Foundation”, with a Saturday workshop for further discussion of the topic with Darcie and other twinless twins.
Mary R. Morgan’s workshops start on Friday. Her workshops include: “What does healing from twin loss mean? Can I heal in a world that is focused on moving on?”, “A healing workshop which explores the issues of early twin loss”, and “A time for questions about the unique grieving issues of twin loss”. There is also a book signing and talk scheduled on Saturday for Mary R. Morgan’s book, Beginning with the End.
Click Here for more details on the conference.
Please join Dena Stitt and Barnes & Noble in celebrating the launch of Mary R. Morgan’s book Beginning with the End: A Memoir of Twin Loss and Healing. The talk and book signing will be held on Monday, June 11, 2012 from 7:00pm–9:00pm at Barnes and Noble (Located at 3rd Street Promenade: 1201 3rd Street & Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401). If you are able to join, please RSVP to Dena Stitt at email@example.com.
The Compassionate Friends 35th National Conference/5th International Gathering will be held July 20-22, 2012 in Costa Mesa California at the Hilton Orange County/Costa Mesa Hotel. The Compassionate Friends self-help bereavement organization for families that have suffered the death of a child will include a full track of workshops for bereaved siblings (as well as more than 100 workshops covering most areas of grief after the death of a child). There will also be activities specifically for siblings. Keynote speakers include prolific and award winning author Lois Duncan who wrote Who Killed My Daughter; Kathy Eldon, journalist, author, producer, activist, and mother who found her lfie changed forever when her 22-year-old son Dan, a Reuters photographer, was stoned to death by an angry mob as he did his job in Somalia in July 1993; and Darcie Sims, always popular international keynote speaker who brings her wit and wisdom as a bereaved parent and certified grief management specialist to the podium. A fourth keynote speaker will be announced prior to the conference. There will be a remembrance candle lighting, as well as TCF’s two mile Walk to Remember which starts at 8 a.m. Sunday morning from the hotel. Click here for more information. Early discounted registration ends June 15 and pre-registration June 29. There will be onsite registration.