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My Twin Sister Has Died

(110 Posts)
Twinless Thu 12-Dec-13 23:19:36


Not sure what I expect or want from this thread but I feel like I need to write down how I'm feeling.

My twin sister died suddenly last month aged 37. It was due to complications from pneumonia leading to heart failure. She went to the GP because she felt she had a chest infection, the GP couldn't hear anything on her chest but was given antibiotics. Apparently because of her age even if pneumonia was suspected, the treatment would have been the same.

My DH, DS (6) and I were with her on the Saturday morning when she suddenly collapsed. I realised very quickly that something was very wrong and called 999. I told my son to wait in the other room while I started CPR, I was overcome with emotion so my husband had to take over, she stopped breathing altogether quite quickly. The ambulance arrived within 8 minutes and managed to shock her heart into beating again but she took a lot of stablising. She was taken straight to resus then transferred to ITU.

Our parents live a 4 hour drive away and I had to persuade them to get here asap rather than leave it overnight which they wanted to do. I don't know whether they were in denial about the seriousness of my sister's situation but I feel resentful that even if that was the case, why didn't they think that my sister would want them there if she woke up or I might need some support?

They eventually arrived later that night and over the next few days tests showed that she had suffered too much brain damage to survive due to lack of oxygen. They tried to cool her brain down for 24 hours and gave her the apparently standard 72 hours + 24 extra hours due to her age to show signs of improvement but nothing. We had to make the decision to let her go.

I hate myself that I didn't save her. I keep thinking did I compress hard enough? Was I distracted too much by my DS keep coming into the room? I wanted so desperately to save her and I keep replaying the whole thing in my mind. Coupled with when she actually died in hospital, It feels like I watched her die twice which is too painful for me to bear. I physically crumpled and howled in pain when I was lead away from her. It still feels that raw but my pain feels trapped, like if I let go again I'll never recover.

I've not been sleeping since. I was persuaded to see my Gp who prescribed a weeks' worth of sleeping pills and has referred me to a breavement counsellor which I do think I need but I feel like I don't want to accept she's gone in case in case it feels like I've forgotten her. The pills aren't helping much, I'm still waking up so haven't taken them for the last couple of nights.

Without turning this into a bigger essay, there was a family estrangement (for an extremely good reason) which meant that my twin sister, my DH, DS and me were our own little family here and now I feel pressured into pretending everything is ok. I've been having to emotionally reassure family members that she loved them really when I know that she never recovered from or forgave her, me and DS being treated so badly from them. I've had no help with clearing my twin's flat yet everyone wants a keepsake to remember her by and I don't really feel that some of them deserve it but I have to keep the peace for my parents sake.

I was left to register her death and arrange the funeral yet I faced pressure to do what they wanted, not what my sister would want or I felt, being the closer to her, what should be done. I had to stick to my guns and even had one of my parent's scream down the phone at me that I had got out of hand with the arrangements. FFS, I arranged a simple, pretty basic funeral but a beautiful ceremony in a Church where we had a connection to and I felt I needed somewhere to go and remember her and the Church turned out to be the cheapest part of the funeral costs! Considering I ensured the large funeral deposit was paid I felt upset that I was being criticised.

I feel like I have been ripped in half. Our birthday is later this month and I can't comphrend turning a year older without her. I don't know what I'm going to do without her. The family situation with my parents has calmed now and I know they are worried about me and are trying to support me but I have been left to it and dealing with everything on my own.

I am also worried about my son and him processing what he saw. I explained everything to him and he chose to see my sister in ITU and the Chapel of Rest which seems to have helped him. I have arranged counselling through his school which is going well. I just want to take those images out of his head. I;m scared that I'm going to die young and leave him too.

I'm rambling now. Thank you for taking the time to read x

scotswayhay Fri 13-Dec-13 00:23:24

How awful for you, wishing you strength and healing in the months to come. You have done all you could and more, be kind to yourself x

BeaWheesht Fri 13-Dec-13 00:27:44

It's not your fault. You will never forget her and your ds will be ok.

Look after yourself. I wish I could say something of more use but it's absolutely normal to feel how you're feeling - don't try and not grieve if that makes sense? Give in to it, just do what you need to. No matter how low you let yourself go you will come out the other side.

Stop caring what other people want you to do and about keeping the peace, I'm not saying argue but just take a step back and explain that's what you're doing and then just let it all float over you - they are not your concern.

Cuddle your ds, remember the good times with your sister, look at photos or keepsakes, cry, howl, sob all you need to and it's ok to smile and laugh and not think about her for a second when the time comes. It seems so all consuming but a new kind of normal will come around and you'll adjust and you will be able to remember her with a smile even though you will always miss her.

I'm so sorry.

timtam23 Fri 13-Dec-13 00:27:47

Twinless I am so sorry for your loss and for what you have been through

Just a thought in case it might help your son - Child Bereavement UK are a charity who can provide help & support for a bereaved child, they have a lot of online info/advice sheets and email support also

Thinking of you all

MiserableMistletoe Fri 13-Dec-13 00:28:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

wilkos Fri 13-Dec-13 00:35:32

You did everything you could for your twin just before she died and now as well... what you have written is so painfully sad, you're doing remarkably well just to be able to articulate what has happened to you and your twin. My heart goes out to you thanks

exexpat Fri 13-Dec-13 00:39:06

Easier said than done, but try not to dwell on whether you could have done anything more to save her - hardly anyone survives a cardiac arrest outside hospital, even with trained first-aiders to administer CPR.

My DH also died of sudden heart failure. Part of me wishes I had been with him at the time in case I could have made a difference, but I know that it is very unlikely, and I am sure the experience would still haunt me.

You say you have arranged counselling for your DS - do you have anyone that you can talk to about it? Maybe someone who could also be a sympathetic ear for the family issues? It sounds like you've been trying to hold it together for everyone and smooth out family rifts, but you could do with some support too.

This may seem like an odd question, but what antibiotic was she taking? DH was also on antibiotics (for an ear infection) when he died, and I discovered years later that one kind of antibiotic is associated with increased risk of cardiac arrest, particularly if it is combined with other medication or something as innocuous sounding as grapefruit juice.

IHeartKingThistle Fri 13-Dec-13 00:39:52

Oh I am so sorry. You sound amazing.

lolalotta Fri 13-Dec-13 01:03:23

I'm so sorry twinless. I am twin and I know how you feel each other's pain as your own. I nearly lost her once to cancer when we were much younger, it was awful. Please take comfort in your son and DH, and don't be too hard on yourself. I'm so impressed you were even able to attempt CPR in that situation, I would have been useless.
My heart goes out to you. xxx

Rhythmisadancer Fri 13-Dec-13 01:14:45

So sad, love to youTwinless, but you did everything right, and grief is just hard - don't soak up anybody else's problem. accept that you need to be unhappy for a while - probably a long while. If it had been the other way round could she have done anything different? No. Is she blaming you? No. She would be / is sorry to have left you. She would want her legacy to you and your family to be strength and love. Of course you are feeling vulnerable without her. There is a path from where you are now, and the place she would want you to be, and many have travelled it.
Too soon, but chin up against these relatives who will be gone before you've got your act together, and then you can put your precious and happy memories back in place, and live around, not without, the happy space she once was. Much love, be kind to yourself - THAT is what she would have wanted xxxxxxxx

monicalewinski Fri 13-Dec-13 01:24:31

Twinless, I am so so sorry to hear what you have been going through. You did all you could - you kept her going until the ambulance got there so you have nothing to feel guilty for about what more you could have done. You were there, that is important.

It is so easy to say as I am not you, but what the rest of the family say/think/do does not matter - your sister had you, your DH and your son and this was what was important to her; take strength from your DH and the family unit that you 3 have and you will all get through this - your son will be ok and so will you in the end.

I hope you get some sleep tonight flowers flowers

Oh, Twinless - I want to climb through screen and just give you a huge hugsad Please just KNOW that you did EVERYTHING 'right' - including (actually, ESPECIALLY) the funeral given you were the one person who very literally 'knew' your DS inside out.

YOUR family unit sounds beautiful, and that will help you as you grieve, but please please DO ensure you get the counselling you need - which you DO need if you are 'blaming' youself in any way; let alone the simply enormous loss you have suffered. Cruse are simply brilliant, so will you call them please? Likewise, Winstons Wishes for your DS.

My DM (who was a much better GM than she ever was a DM) died this year, and the support I got from orgs. like the above was simply awesome in helping my DCs.

I cannot begin to imagine the scale of your loss. Or the trauma or of your pain. Am sending you huge un-MN'y hugs and can only hope that you access the support that really IS there, and then can grieve as you are right to. Your loss is immense, please know how many of us are now thinking of you and sending you love tonight thanksthanksthanks

Twinless Fri 13-Dec-13 02:29:15

My Goodness, I couldn't sleep so here I am and there are so many touching and kind replies. Thank you to every single person who has taken the time to post, I am moved to tears by your generosity of spirit and wise words thanks thanks thanks thanks

Woodchuck I think you are right. My Mum feels very guilty and has a lot of regret as we hadn't seen or spoken to her in 3 years. She basically took my brother and other sister's "side" when they were exchanging emails ripping the piss out of my DS (who is now undergoing investigation for AS). My twin and I have always had a fractious relationship with our DM which I could fill a whole other thread about. I tentatively resumed contact with my DM last December as I was facing a major operation and felt she should know.

Timtam23 Thank you for that link - it looks really good and I think it will help my DS. I think he is taking it in his stride even though they were so close, I guess as children do. I get the odd question thrown at me at random times like in Tesco but I do answer him truthfully in the best way he can understand so I feel he knows that I'm there for him.

MiserableMistletoe As traumatic as it was, I know you are right and deep in my heart that she needed me with her and I had to be there for her. I honestly dread to think what would have happened if we weren't there. She was known to pop off for an impromptu evening or weekends with friends and worked long hours so it wasn't unusual for us to miss each other when calling so I am glad she wasn't alone when she died and we didn't have to suffer finding her days later. I also know that she would have wanted me there over anyone so I am grateful that I was able to be.

Exexpat I don't know what antibiotics she was on. I think I may have the bottle somewhere with her other medication to take to the chemist to dispose of so I'll take a look. How frightening to think that. I'm so sorry for the loss of your DH thanks

AmGrowing I was passed the details of Cruse by the hospital and thought I might contact them but was worried about finding the words to start the conversation but I will call them, I promise smile

I wish I could reply to every single one of you, I am so genuinely touched that you have reached out to me to offer advice, gentle words, affirmation regarding my feelings about the funeral and our closeness.

Despite all the pain and guilt, the past few days I have been able to start taking comfort from a few things. We had recently had a conversation regarding organ donation so we went ahead with that. A lot of her major organs were too damaged by the treatment and infection but her liver and eyes were able to be donated and I can honestly say that the knowledge she wanted to and has been able to help others is a huge comfort. The transplant staff were absolutely amazing and I can't praise them highly enough.

My DH has been my rock and a huge source of strength to get me through this past month. In a roundabout way, it's thanks to my twin that we are together and therefore have my DS.

I'm hoping the flashbacks will start to fade in time. I keep replaying everything, reliving it and I don't want to think of her in pain and incapacitated. I know counselling will probably help with that and hopefully it won't take too long for my appointment to come through. Logically, I know I won't always feel like this but it feels like the rawness and huge sense of loss will never so away.

SecretWitch Fri 13-Dec-13 02:38:37

My heart goes out to you. I can't imagine to know the grief and loss you must be feel. I am reaching out to hug you..xx

Twinless Fri 13-Dec-13 02:59:07

Thank you SecretWitch x

mynameisnotmichaelcaine Fri 13-Dec-13 03:07:26

So sorry for your loss. You did everything you could.

snowtunesgirl Fri 13-Dec-13 08:27:13

Holding you in my thoughts.

It's such a shock when someone in the prime of their years suddenly goes as it's so unexpected.

My cousin died from a brain aneurysm a month before my DD was born. He was my age. I think of him often.

I think that sudden loss happens more often than we think it does.

I wish you well OP. X

Imwoodword Fri 13-Dec-13 08:31:04

I am so so sorry for your loss. Please be kind to yourself thanks

Mignonette Fri 13-Dec-13 08:33:44

You have my deepest condolences.

Can I point you towards one of the organisations that could help Here and also a good book by Joan Woodward called 'THE LONE TWIN: Understanding Twin Bereavement and Loss'.

Cruse will also help you as twin loss can be so much harder.

flowers to you.

SoloXantiaClaws Fri 13-Dec-13 11:19:50

Your loss is so new, you are bound to feel raw and sore and flashbacks to a traumatic event are a natural thing too, but they do stop. You may have some after they have stopped, but ime, they don't reignite in the same way as the original.
How wonderful that other peoples lives have been made better through your twin sister. How good is it that she expressed those wishes to you. She somehow lives on a little through the recipients I think.

Do look after your own needs.

Faverolles Fri 13-Dec-13 11:25:36

I'm so sorry Twinless sad
I'm a twin, I can only imagine what you're going through right now.
Please don't blame yourself for not doing enough, you did everything you could.

MissMilbanke Fri 13-Dec-13 11:29:07

You sound like an amazing woman, a loving sister and mother.

What you have been through is heartbreaking, but in a small way I can see that the organ donation is a wonderful thing to come out of this.

Be kind to yourself and take all the help and support you can to ensure you get through this.


Badvocatyuletide Fri 13-Dec-13 11:34:32

I'm so very sorry for your loss x
My beloved dad collapsed and died suddenly in July at a Family wedding.
My dh and I did CPR but to no avail. He was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital.
I wish I could give you words of comfort but I can't. I also feel so guilty I couldn't save my dad. I don't think it will ever leave me.
Sadly later the same day my mother suffered a stress induced heart attack and my siblings were too shocked to do anything. So the funeral and all arrangements fell to me.
It's a very lonely place to be.
It sounds like you did her proud. She loved you and was loved in return. I think that's all any of us can hope for, and many of us never have.
I am hopeful that in time he raw grief and pain I feel will ease, and I hope that for you too x

Lizzylou Fri 13-Dec-13 11:40:16

I am so very sorry thanks
You did absolutely everything that you could do.
I hope that your ds is ok and am pleased that you have such a supportive dh.

Faithless12 Fri 13-Dec-13 11:47:59

Twinless, I'm so sorry for your loss. My DM died in very similar circumstances and the family scenario are similar as well.

Don't rush clearing her flat or give away anything you don't want to. By the time I got to my DM's flat everyone had taken what they wanted and I'm still angry about it now, years later.


happytalk13 Fri 13-Dec-13 11:50:14

What an awful, awful shock for you. I have no experience of bereavement and all I can think of saying is to not be hard on yourself and seek help (which you have done) and don't judge yourself for feeling the way you feel.

OTOH I have PLENTY of experience of toxic relationships. I was appalled to read of your mother's and siblings' behaviour over their piss taking out of your son. You mention that you and your DTS had always had problems with your parents. |They haven't changed much have they? Why should you have to feel obliged to involve them now. Your mum feels guilty - that was her doing and her alone - not yours. \Toxic people are never healthy to have around, even more so in your case where you are so raw and so vulnerable. You can't heal a would by pouring poison on it. Would you consider posting about your parents on the relationships board, or visiting the stately homes thread? there are some amazing posters there.

I'm really sorry you lost your twin sad

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