Still Standing

Telling the siblings… is it more for them or for you?

When I was first asked to be a contributor to this magazine, I was thrilled. I felt like I had so much to share about my journey through grief. I imagined the eloquent, relatable, uplifting posts I’d write and how people who were struggling would read them and think “This woman can relate to my pain, yet she has found joy again. Maybe the same is possible for me.”
To be honest, my hope is that I have written posts like that. Because it is my belief that we can, and should target joy as a goal in our lives after loss. I believe that is how we truly honor and remember our lost babies.

But as I sit to write this post, it is from a place of confusion, and possibly regret. There is not much in life I regret, to be honest. Sure, there are things I’d do different, mistakes I’d have avoided, and eyeshadow colors I should never have worn, but lately I’ve been plagued by the concern that I’ve done something I now regret.

What was it?

I told my four year old about her angel sisters.

A few months ago I wrote on my own blog about my decision to tell her. I was SURE it was the right step. Our twins are a huge part of our life, they are the foundation upon which I built my life after loss, via Finding My Muchness, where I help women recapture their joy and identity after loss. They were the catalyst which inspired me to find my own joy and reconnect with my passion.

I needed to tell her. I decided she needed to know. She was 19 months when they died. She knew I was pregnant, knew I was carrying two babies in my belly. After they died she came up to me, and, like she’d been doing for months, lifted my shirt and said “Babies!” I lowered my shirt, said “No more babies” started weeping and gave her a hug.

Neither of us ever mentioned it again.

Until a few months ago. I told her she had twin sisters, named Sunshine & Daisy, and that they watch over us. She didn’t remember when I had them in my tummy, but she asked to see their ultrasound picture. She also started drawing suns and daisies on every picture she’s drawn since. For a while I thought it was cute, sweet, thoughtful and beautiful.

But now I’m worried. Over the last few months she’s seemed stressed out and unusually emotional. Though we talk openly when she wants to, I get the feeling she is carrying a weight I wish I hadn’t burdened her with. Together we decided that she and her living sister need to be represented in her art too, so her new nickname would be Ladybug and her little sister would be Rainbow and she could draw those things on the page with the sun and daisy.

This week my husband and I are meeting with a therapist to try and determine if this is impacting her, or if her emotional outbursts and behavioral concerns are based on other issues.

I wish I was writing something here that offered advice or perspective or even support or ideas around your own “should we tell our other kids” questions, but alas, I have none.

Instead I come asking for your feedback, experience & insight.

This is such a complicated journey and I know I am not the first to walk this path. I also know I’m not the only one currently walking it. Please use the comments area below this post to share your insight, questions or experience. I’ll be reading every one.
xo, Tova