How do you welcome your child during mourning for your twins?

Mourning – It’s a drama with a taboo: the death of death that rubs the shoulders with the birth of a child. Football star Cristiano Ronaldo, who was waiting for twins with his girlfriend, announced on April 18 on social media the death of one of the newborns.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our child,” the Manchester United striker said in a letter signed with his Argentine-born partner, Spanish model Georgina Rodriguez.

While the birth rate of twins has never been this high in the world, according to a study published in June 2021 in the journal. human reproductionThis drama raises the issue of perinatal bereavement, in the event that one twin survives and the other does not, either in the womb or at birth.

It’s a fact that expectant parents don’t even think about. Solen Ekezian, M.D., a psychoanalyst and psychopathologist who specializes in bereavement, explains. Parents protect themselves and there’s nothing else you can do when you’re expecting a baby. We put that aside.”

psychological help

So how can you succeed in welcoming the child who remains to mourn the dead?

Solène Ekizian advises: “It is very complicated and you should not hesitate to get help and consult a psychologist trained in this field, because you will have to take care of the parents and the child alive.”

From day one, you can talk to the remaining child and reveal the truth, no matter how harsh it may be. “In the womb, the baby was cohabiting with someone who suddenly no longer exists and we don’t necessarily think about explaining it to him, especially when we ourselves are broken,” the psychiatrist notes.

Hence sometimes the possibility to go through a professional to find the words and address your child. “The practitioner can explain to the child that something terrible has happened and that his little brother or sister has died, if the parents are not immediately successful,” she thinks.

The psychologist adds: “A professional can also help legitimize talking to the child. Because there are people who are not really clear to talk to their child.

Talk to your child

Golden rule: speak up. Solén Ekezyan insists: “We have to talk about it and understand why it makes sense to do it. We build ourselves with everything, even with something very difficult,” Françoise Dolto said. “The worst is what is not said, the secret or the taboo, which creates missing pieces of the puzzle” .

Missing pieces that can be inherited as legacy. “So-called family secrets are passed down from generation to generation. So if you don’t tell your story to a baby, these are things that can come up later.”

Another important thing: Make sure the child survivor doesn’t feel guilty about anything. “The remaining twin is in no way responsible and will tell her so. Psychologist and therapist Katherine Verder insists it shouldn’t be a taboo. If named, feel free to use the deceased child’s first name.

Just talking to those who stayed is confidence in his ability to build himself up with this reality. “Children are surprising and sometimes the atmosphere is more flexible for them than for us,” assures Solene Ekizian.

be well surrounded

Another important thing: a relay in his entourage. “Parents, brothers and sisters, friends, and neighbors can do chores or go shopping for parental comfort,” Solène Ekizian details.

Those around them can also help them find time to devote to their two children. The psychiatrist recalls: “Even if one is alive and the other is not, the parents have two children. They must be able to take care of the living child, who is there, but also the deceased child: think about it, organize a funeral, find a ritual … ”

The ritual or devotion involved is not an obligation. Above all, it must have meaning for the parents in order to be “therapeutic”: it could be the release of a balloon, or a lit candle, or a meal, or a celebration in the garden, by the sea … Psychologist.

that the child died in the womb Or after birth, as the case may be, “every bereavement is unique, because every pregnancy is unique, every child is unique and every parent has its own background and story,” Soleen Ekezian recalls.

Sometimes, parental pain can cause a child who is left behind. “There is already the postpartum period, to which the grief of bereavement is added, so parents should be helped to invest in the relationship with the surviving child, advises Catherine Verder. A depressed parent takes 11 seconds more to respond to the need of a crying child,” she says.

It is necessary to avoid as much as possible the imbalance of “investment” between the surviving child and the child who died, in one direction or another.

No “ready” phrases

Advice for those around bereaved parents: Don’t try to console them with ready-made phrases, such as: “That’s fine, you have one left, you need to think about,” or “It’s better that it happens at birth than later.” Even if the intention is not bad, it is destructive to the parents.

“People who say this do not mean harm, they consider that he will be reassuring or do not know what to say, Solin Ekezyan believes. But the child who died has his place in equal measure and it is important that those around him give him a place and be aware of his presence and also grieve.

A mourning may be necessary even after a few weeks of pregnancy, whatever the opinion of relatives. “You should not hesitate to insist and express your grief to your family,” stresses Catherine Verder.

‘missing twins’ syndrome

The remaining twin will also feel deficient. “When you’re not a twin, it’s hard to imagine, but a twin baby never really knew living alone, Solène Ekizian recalls. As soon as he felt something, in his mother’s womb, someone next to him was making noises and moving.

Even if it is not a consciousness like the one that arose after birth, this existence is part of their existence. When one of them disappears, so “part of it” disappears that some psychologists do not hesitate to talk about the syndrome of “missing twins”.

Syndrome can manifest itself in different ways. “We can note the anxiety of abandonment or death for those who have lost a twin after birth, notes Catherine Verder. A sense of guilt too, with this question: Why am I alive and not the other?”

Treatment can reduce or reduce these symptoms, which sometimes last into adulthood. For example, the psychiatrist says, “I had a patient in her twenties, who lost her twin brother at birth and could not eat on her own, for fear of suffocation.”

The taboo of mourning in the perinatal period

Ronaldo’s family drama sheds more light on the taboo surrounding bereavement in the perinatal period. Solén Ekezyan emphasizes that “losing your child is not in the ‘logical’ order of things. When our 90-year-old grandmother dies, of course we feel very sad, but that’s part of a certain ‘rationality’. When you’re expecting a baby, you think about birth and life, you expect everything Except for his death. He is very violent.”

To counter this, more and more Instagram accounts are dedicated to parents of children who died at birth, who post pictures of their children, such as American model Chrissy Teigen. On October 1, 2020, she posted a snapshot of her late son Jack. Approach raised a scandal at the time, evidence that the topic is still a taboo.

Silence and solitude

Some are also campaigning to find a way to talk about these bereaved parents, as there is the word “orphan” for a child who has lost both parents. If the term “parange” is not unanimous, the need to make their experience more explicit is well shared.

The various free expression movements around motherhood have also seen the emergence of testimonies about the “natural termination of pregnancy,” another way of talking about “abortion,” which for these parents is “wrong.”

The procedure for a natural termination of pregnancy is actually an encounter with silence and solitude. “It is difficult, because it does not exist. We confiscate the feelings that are crossed,” supports Sandra Lorenzo of “Abortion, a real experience.” Especially since most miscarriages happen in the first trimester of pregnancy, “when you shouldn’t be talking about your pregnancy.”

“What do we do with our dead and our elders?”

As we give life, the possibility of death exists, and the way it is conceived and understood in our society is also called into question.

“Unfortunately, we don’t talk about it much, sorry for Catherine Werder. It develops very slowly. We don’t know what to do with our dead, we don’t know what to do with our elderly … ”As she says, death is a topic that children would like to discuss often.

“Many of the symptoms in her are related to death anxiety and the parents don’t see or imagine them,” she explains. Adults often get caught up in their grief or don’t want to sit down and think about it.”

See also on Half Post: A miscarriage, this mother suffered alone, despite the care of those around her

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