by Linda Pountney
Twinless Twins Support Group International
My identical twin sister Paula died unexpectedly as her small plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean one Thanksgiving night. We were 21 years old. With the same genes and a shared history, we functioned as a unit growing up. Having our own language and each other as best friends, our reliance grew. Even before birth we developed a bond, which would prove hard to break.
I lived my life from age 21 to 39, managing to deny my grief. Unconscious denial (referred to as dissociation) can serve as a protection mechanism. Unable to cope with losing my other half, my grief waited for me. A cloud of feelings burst open, bringing Paula back through time, into my life, releasing me to feel the painful long-denied emotions.
Triggered by my mother’s death, my emotional balance hung on the ebbing and flowing of my grief. A new inner world opened doors to my evolving twinship. Going back in time to heal, I explored who I was in our twin alliance, and the significance of my twinship. Having lived in a relationship with another person from before birth, I never had any reason to expect one of us to leave this world before the other. Our twin connection strengthened our seemingly secure bond to face the world together.
Denial of grief is common and misunderstood. Grief can wait in the wings for a time to surface, for when you are better prepared to absorb its lessons. It can be triggered by other losses. Left undone, grief wreaks havoc with your ability to enjoy life and to feel positive emotions. Grief has no time frame. It can be postponed, but never put away.
My twin’s sudden death broke an unspoken vow of protection and twin reliance. Forever changed, I would never enjoy the same innocence. My foundation was rocked to the core. Expanding my knowledge of grief and of being a twin, I forged forward to learn new facets of being present for my life alone.
I cried a billion tears when the emotional dam broke. I still cry. My vulnerability opened my heart to others; compassion grew. Learning how to give and receive gave life an unexplained richness. My healing continues as I reach out to newly twinless of all ages, and they to me. Twinless Twins Support Group International (TTSGI) plays a large role in this.
TTSGI is a non-profit organization providing a support community for twins and other multiples who experienced the unique loss of their twin. The organization offers regional meetings, annual conferences, and online support. In the spirit of “healing by helping”, we provide understanding for each other. Members at different stages in their bereavement come along side one another as companions in grief and healing. Hope is renewed for the future; twin bonds develop in the form of friendships and mentors. “Once a twin, always a twin” is shared and realized on many levels as healing ensues. This is a truly remarkable experience.
About the Author: Linda Pountney is the past Vice President of Twinless Twins Support Group International, offering support for twins and other multiples who have lost their twin due to death or estrangement. When her twin sister Paula died in a small plane crash, the effects of this trauma contributed to a delayed onset of Linda’s grief for her twin. Support resources were not available at that time. Without the tools to move forward in her life without her twin, Linda’s grieving process was delayed for years.
A mother of two sons, Linda lives in Connecticut with her husband and youngest son. She has been published in national and international craft magazines, most recently on the healing power of scrapbooking. Linda has been a workshop facilitator on sudden traumatic loss, using scrapbooking as a healing tool to process the emotions associated with grief. Memorializing her twin using the creative process has become a healing ritual for her. She has been a guest on “Healing the Grieving Heart” syndicated Internet radio show, and featured on the television show “Inside Edition,” and interviewed for “Good Morning, America,” and “Good Housekeeping Magazine” about the effects of losing your twin. She has contributed to several bereavement and twin books. Linda was published in “We Need Not Walk Alone,” the national magazine of The Compassionate Friends, “The Twinless Times Magazine,” “Scrapbook Retailer,” “Craft Trends Magazine,” and numerous trade publications. She is the Twinless Twins Public Awareness Coordinator, past editor of “Twin Links” newsletter, the first New England Regional Coordinator, and the founder of a Yahoo Discussion Group for Twinless Twins. Currently, twin loss discussions take place on the Facebook group Twinless Twins Support Group.