There are many helpful books on loss and grief available. Here is a loss reading list of some that I have found to be particularly helpful and supportive. I am very pleased to note that support literature for surviving co-multiples is on the increase.
If you have a read a book that you have found helpful and would like to share it, please let me know.
Step into the Light: Living in the Shadow of the Ghosts of Grief , Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D., Companion Press, 2007, 152 Pages, ISBN 978-1-879651-51-7 $13.95US; $17.95Cdn.
Wolfelt has written many thoughtful and supportive books on grief and here is another one. He looks at why many of us carry our grief rather than mourning it. It isn’t uncommon to feel afraid to face what hurts us. We may fear losing control and never getting it back. We may fear crying and never stopping (in fact, we do eventually stop crying. After about 20 minutes, our body slows down and crying stops). We may be under the impression that if we do not face our losses, then they didn’t really happen. We may be under the mistaken impression that if we “ignore” the pain, it will go away. We may fear that the pain will be so great that we could “break.” As common as such feeling or perceptions may be, Wolfelt encourages the reader to address that which we fear will destroy or cripple us and to mourn so that we can move forward and “step into the light.” If we do not so, the grief will never leave us and will be carried forward with us to raise its ugly head and undermine us at every opportunity.
Here are a few quotes (from several) which touched me:
Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live - Dorothy Thompson
If my grief softens, I’m afraid I’ll have to admit he is never coming back. And that is what I don’t want to face. A workshop participant.
One heals suffering only by experiencing it to the full. Marcel Proust
If the reader has difficulty in recognizing his/her pain, grief, physical problems or addictions, Dr. Wolfelt has included a survey to assist with learning about and/or recognizing which issues readers might be experiencing. When it is all in a list before us, it can be helpful in coming to terms with what we are (may be) dealing and help us move forward to get the help and support need.
Always My Twin, by Valerie R. Samuels and Illustrated by Najah Clemmons, Trafford Publishing, 28 pages, softcover
At last a book for young co-twin survivors! Samuels gave birth to twin daughters Gina and Julia at term. Gina had Trisomy 13 and Holoprosencephaly and lived for 9 days. As Samuels describes, “She died in my arms, but not in my heart.” In order to honour Gina and help Julia deal with her loss, Samuels wrote this book. It is narrated by Julia who explains her parents sadness at losing her sister and joy with having her. It is an easy to read children’s book, using language aimed at about age 5. It explains how the pregnancy began as two and that one of the babies died.
Always My Twin is interactive in that the reader can complete sentences explaining how they feel about losing their co-twin, paste in a photograph and complete their own Family Tree. The touching illustrations “speak” so that the young reader can understand and perhaps relate to what they, too, might be feeling.
The book may be little, but it fills a gap for young co-multiple survivors in a big way!
If you are interested in purchasing a copy, it can be ordered online at: trafford.com/05-0937 or from Valerie herself at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sibling Grief: Healing After the Death of a Sister or Brother, P. Gill White, iUniverse Inc., 2006, softcover, 112 pages
When a child dies, people close to that child feel the loss: the parents, the grandparents, the siblings. While we tend to focus on supporting and providing resources for parents, the grandparents and siblings also have unique experiences. This book focuses on sibling loss and as bereaved parents, we need to be aware that the loss of our child(ren) also affects our living children. Depending upon the age of each child when his/her sibling dies and under what circumstances (born still, illness, accident, suicide), the situation can be very difficult for siblings as well. Not only are their parents not emotionally available to them for an amount of time (sometimes years), they have lost a comrade, partner, playmate, friend, confident and so much more.
While this book does not touch on multiple-birth co-sibling loss and the unique challenges faced by the survivors, nevertheless, there are many parallels included which parents will be able to relate to, understand and act on to support and assist their living co-multiples in dealing with a co-sibling’s loss.
White, who lost a sister when she was 15, has broken her book down into the different ages at which loss might occur and provided guidance and insight for parents at each stage. She breaks down the healing practices into 5 steps: learning about sibling loss and the grief process; allowing yourself to grieve; connection with other bereaved siblings; telling your story; and finding meaning in the loss.
There are a plethora of resources listed in her helpful and supportive book, also broken down into detailed categories so that bereaved siblings can make other connections as they might need. This book would not only be a terrific resource for professionals whose clients are looking for grief support around the death of a sibling but also for parents having lost a child(ren) and suporting/helping their surviving child(ren) deal with their own emotions around the loss.
Journeys: Stories of Pregnancy After Loss, edited by Amy L. Abbey, Woven Word Press, 2006, 183 pages, softcover
Losing a child is a parent’s worse nightmare. In our fantasies about our lives and how they will play out, we never envision that we will lose a child. In fact we have the most beautiful baby (or babies) in the world and everyone lives happily ever after. The truth is, that sometimes parents lose their baby. There may be no discernable rhyme nor reason to the loss, making the loss much worse as we blame ourselves, our bodies, the world.
Getting pregnant after a loss has additional issues: Will we lose another pregnancy? What are my chances of losing another pregnancy? When is the optimum time to try again? When another pregnancy does occur, time lines can be emotionally depleting, especially if they mirror those of the unsuccessful pregnancy. Such fears and questions are normal.
Journeys: Stories of Pregnancy After Loss, edited by Amy L. Abbey, chronicles stories of loss by parents whom have suffered the worst kind of loss. This touching and caring book speaks to the pain of losing a much-wanted and loved baby, through miscarriage, stillbirth or just after birth. One by one parents recount how their pregnancy progressed, some knowing ahead of time that their precious child would not live to feel the sun. Parents speak to their innocence about their pregnancy, their joys, and about the journey of the distress of their loss. Some share their disbelief with the news of their child’s prognosis and of processing that knowledge. They share how they coped through their loving relationships with each other, family and friends. Some had other children but the emptiness remains in spite of the subsequent joy of the birth of a healthy child.
I think it is important not only to tell the stories of precious lives lost, but also in letting us know that we are not alone in our grief. By sharing their stories, these courageous parents have honoured the short lives of their babies while at the same time extending a hand and loving spirit to other grieving families experiencing the same situation. Together we are so much stronger and the path, while still bumpy and often uphill, is somehow made a little better.
The Loss of a Multiple: Miscarriage, Stillbirth, Infancy , Multiple Births Canada
The Loss of a Multiple: Childhood, Teens , Multiple Births Canada
Empty Cradle, Broken Heart: Surviving the Death of your Baby , Deborah L. Davis, Fulcrum Publishing
Living When a Loved One has Died , Earl A. Grollman, Beacon Press
Men & Grief (a guide for Men surviving the Death of a Loved One), Carol Staudacher, New Harbinger Publications
On Children and Death , Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, Collier Books
Questions and Answers on Death and Dying , Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, Macmillan Publishing Co.
When a Baby Dies: A Handbook for Healing and Helping , Rana K. Limbo and Sara Rich Wheeler, RTS Bereavement Services
When Hello Means Goodbye: a guide for parents whose child dies before birth, at birth or shortly after birth , Pat Schwieber and Paul Kirk, Perinatal Loss
The Worst Loss: How Families Heal from the Death of a Child , Barbara D. Rosof, Henry Hold and Co., N.Y.
Forever Our Angels, Hannah Stone, 2006, Lulu Publishing, 96 pages, soft cover, $7.95 US.
Web site: http://www.lulu.com/content/216306
Hannah Stone suffered three pregnancy losses along with the births of 5 healthy children. Each of her children were much-wanted but not all of her babies were able to stay to be a family on earth. While Hannah located books on loss, grief and others offering coping strategies, they did not meet her needs of wanting to know her feelings were normal and not feeling as if she needed to hide her loss. As such, she decided to create the book she never found in the hopes that others might also find solace as she needed.
Her book, while not addressing multiple birth loss, is a collection of about 15 personal stories of miscarriage. Grieving parents share their confusion, grief, numbness, having to put on a ‘happy face’ for others and some acknowledge their anger at God for taking their baby before s/he had a chance at life. This is not a book about being fair.
When we share our grief and say our baby’s(ies) name, we honour our Little Lights of Life and confirm that our Forever Angels remain in our hearts. The future is forever changed. Parents learn that the world can be a cruel place and their discussion centres around the struggle to find a new “normal.”
While Forever Our Angels rips at the heart, families suffering the early loss of much wanted babies, will no doubt find comfort in knowing they are not alone in their grief.
Remembering Our Angels: Personal Stories of Healing from a Pregnancy Loss, Hannah Stone, www.lulu.com, March, 2007, softcover, 138 pages
Courageous and very sad families have shared their stories of loss(es), how they have handled their loss and how their lives have changed as a result of losing their precious baby(ies). While these stories are difficult to read, they are also compelling and the fact that these parents are honouring their children by sharing each aspect of their short lives, the reader cannot remain untouched. In fact, we shouldn’t be untouched. Nothing about losing a baby is fair or right.
Stone includes one family’s story of loss of one twin, and I submitted an article addressing some of the challenges multiple birth families must face and how friends, family, professionals and the community can do their part to support and assist each bereaved family.
For Surviving Co-Multiples
The Survivor , Lynne Schulz, 2003, Pleasant World – with Foreward by Lynda P. Haddon
Living Without Your Twin , Betty Jean Case, Tibbutt Publishing
The Lone Twin: Understanding Twin Bereavement and Loss , Joan Woodward, 1998, Free Association Books
The End of the Twins: A Memoir of Losing a Brother, by Saul Diskin, The Overlook Press
Twin Loss: A Book for Survivor Twins, by Raymond Brandt, Courier Printing Co.