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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

Twinless Tue 24-Dec-13 17:37:45

Thank you DENMAN03 - logically, I know you are right. It was the paramedics who managed to get her back and stablise her enough to get to hospital. Before they arrived, her breathing was erratic and she wasn't getting enough oxygen so the 999 operator talked us through CPR, then she actually stopped breathing completely so in your heart, you can't help but feel you did it wrong or something. My sense of guilt and blame is starting to lessen but it is hard. I am grateful that I was able to attempt it though, I always thought I would freeze so it shows you never know how you will react in an emergency. Hug your twin tight - I never fully appreciated the gift of being a twin, I suppose i took it for granted but it is such a special bond x

Me2Me2 and SkogKat Thank you for taking the time to post x

Whethergirl Thank you for your touching pm. I suspect too in time it will be a comfort to me to still be able to "see her" in me. I am so lucky to have such an amazing DH, DS, friends as well as my twin's friends who have all rallied round me too.

Every single poster who has taken the time to post will never know how much it has meant to me, thank you so much for your kindness. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and I'd like to wish you all every happiness for 2014 x thanks wine

whethergirl Sun 22-Dec-13 23:55:10

Twinless I wondered if you were identical, and how that might affect you. I am not a twin so can't imagine anyone looking just like me, but when I look at my sister sometimes I recognise myself in her. Being a twin is no doubt a very special bond, and you are that part of her that is living, you are a walking memory of her.

I hope it your resemblance will also be a comfort to you at times. Perhaps when you are older, you will know how she would have looked too.

The photo frame and candle for Christmas is a lovely idea. Our dc are blessing to us at times like these, because whatever happens, they still need us every day and life has to go on for their sake.

I have also pm'd you.

Skogkat Sun 22-Dec-13 21:16:01

I'm so sorry for your loss thanks

Me2Me2 Sun 22-Dec-13 20:52:44

I'm so sorry for your loss

DENMAN03 Sun 22-Dec-13 20:44:33

Im so sorry for your loss. Your post made me cry. Im a twin myself and I know how strong that bond is. Honestly if my twin sister died I couldn't actually cope without her. You sound amazing and Im sure you did everything you could. You wouldn't have been able to restart her heart without a defribulator (sp) so please don't blame yourself for her dying.
Words wont bring you much comfort now and I can imagine how you feel but Im sure her life was enriched by having you as her twin.
stay strong and much love.

Twinless Sat 21-Dec-13 20:51:17

p.s. Merry Christmas too x

Twinless Sat 21-Dec-13 20:50:54

Hi Snog, I think trying to be more in the moment might be a good way of dealing with things. Especially now all the hoo-hah of arrangements, telephone calls, letters etc. have ended I've not got much to occupy my mind so I'm constantly thinking about it. Maybe Christmas is a double-edged sword - on the one hand it's going to be so hard and I'm dreading it but on the other hand, it's something to focus on and try to "enjoy" for my DS. It was my twin's favourite time of year so she would want me to try and enjoy it.

Funny you should say that about doing something for my Dsis. I was out shopping and saw the most beautiful, unusual frame and I immediately could see my twin's photo in it so I bought it! Part of her present was a candle she picked for herself for me to buy (typical of her, bless her!) so I'm going to put her photo in the frame and light her christmas present candle beside it. I might do the same for our birthday next week or maybe buy some flowers to go next to the photo?

I suppose being identical twins she will always be a part of me and a part of my DS. The difficult thing though is looking in a mirror, at the moment it's such a hard reminder. After she died, we were taken into a room and when I sat down I realised I was facing a window. As it was dark, I could see my reflection and I immediately felt sick and had to move. I suppose it means my DS will never forget how she looked so that's a good thing. My DGF died when I was 14 and years later I met up with is Dsis and I was in awe to see his features in 3D again, it was a nice feeling so hopefully my DS can experience that.

Thanks again thanks

Snog Sat 21-Dec-13 10:27:15

I'm very happy to hear that you decided to keep the ashes, Twinless. Well done for looking after yourself and stepping back from your mum. Your experience brings me to tears and I don't know what to say other than don't be hard on yourself over what happened - you did CPR for your sis in a shocking situation and you were there for her when she needed you. You love her and you did your best for her.
The most comforting thing anyone said to me is that your loved ones are forever with you, they are always part of you and you carry them with you.
I also found "mindfulness" to be some relief ( basically trying to be more in the moment if you have not heard of this).
Keep on speaking up for yourself
And Merry Christmas - will you do something on Christmas day for your sis?
thanks thanks thanks

Twinless Fri 20-Dec-13 19:32:55

Whethergirl Wow, wow, wow! You are so kind thanks That is so incredibly touching and it means the absolute world to me to know that she has inspired you to register. It's so tragic that there are such few donors and knowing she has been able to make a huge difference to several lives brings me so much comfort, in fact, I know I cling to it as it's the only positive to come out of such devastion. You have done a wonderful thing and thank you for doing it, in part, in memory of her. I have also pm'd you as I want you to know her name thanks thanks thanks x

Snog You ARE an amazing mother. I know this because a bad mother would never acknowledge that they could have done something differently and it takes a strong, loving person to say otherwise. Please don't be too hard on yourself, grief is such a strong emotion and sometimes everyday minute is a battle. I am also so sorry to hear of the loss of your Dad thanks x

Thank you once again everyone for all your support. I haven't spoken to my Mum for nearly a week and I've cancelled the visit. I am taking a huge step back from her. I'm upset that my DS didn't remember her at all (she went NC when he was nearly 3) and when she was here she was making all sorts of promises only to disappear so quickly again because she doesn't get her own way - so I let her back into his life only for him to get messed about. Ultimately, he is better off without her in his life if she can turn her back on him so easily but it's unfair on him now.

I am also keeping her ashes. Full stop! It is definitely what my sis would want so that's what I'm doing. Thank you for helping me realise that and give me the strong to speak up for myself x

Snog Wed 18-Dec-13 23:15:12

What a shocking and profoundly traumatic time you have had OP. To lose a twin in this way is shocking even to read about so i can't imagine how you are feeling sad . You sound like an amazing sister and getting support for your ds makes you sound like a pretty amazing mother too. I was too upset myself when my dad died in May to support my dd for a while or even to recognise the depth of her loss. Keep your mum and other siblings at arms length and be kind to yourself. I am very sorry for your loss thanks .

whethergirl Wed 18-Dec-13 22:31:20

Can I just say to an outsider, these are the facts:

Your/your twin's relationship with your mother is 'complicated' (I'm being kind there!) and your twin distanced herself from that part of the family
Your twin would want her ashes to be with you
You want her ashes to stay with you

It seems obvious her ashes need to stay with you. At least untill you ever feel otherwise? I cannot believe and I'm so sorry your mum is behaving the way she is. If anyone was in a position to be 'selfish' and think of yourself and your needs, rather than pleasing everyone else, it's you. If you were my best friend, I would encourage you to keep any contact with your mum and siblings to a bare minimum if at all, because I would put your needs first, especially during this immensley difficult time - you really don't need all that bullshit right now (if ever!). The snapshot description of your childhood is so so sad, but although you did not have any choice as a child to be with a toxic family, you have a choice now.

by moving on or laughing, forgetting for a moment means I don't love her I can totally understand that and it is a very natural to feel this way when bereaved. Would it help to consider, if the tables were turned, how you would feel about your twin - would you want her to be happy, to live her life, to laugh?

Also, Twinless, reading about your twin donating her organs led me to go on the organ donation website, it's something I have thought about for a long time. I have now registered, I hope it means a little something that your twin encouraged me to do this, and I'll always remember her as the reason for registering thanks

SoloXantiaClaws Tue 17-Dec-13 23:10:03

Meant to say that Dads ashes are over 4 years 'old'.

SoloXantiaClaws Tue 17-Dec-13 23:09:00

You should do what both you and what you feel your twin would want you to do imo. My Dads ashes spent far too long (imo) at the funeral parlour as my Mum couldn't bring them home...I suggested we collect them and they are at home with her now.

Don't let anyone bully you into doing something you don't want to do.

I hope you are taking care of yourself.

SapSuma Tue 17-Dec-13 14:44:09

Op -I'm so so sorry for your terrible loss. Please do what you feel is right and don't worry about others. You have been through so much and my heart breaks for you. Just try to get through each day at a time flowers

Twinless Tue 17-Dec-13 12:08:29

I'm not long home from collecting her ashes. It was very emotional but the funeral director was so lovely, he held my hand and had a lovely chat. I really don't think I'll be able to let them go. I really feel that she belongs here in my home with her family. It really is what she would want but I was trying to keep everyone happy, but seeing them and holding them has given me the strength to do what I know my twin will want.

Pull Tue 17-Dec-13 04:21:10

So sorry for your loss x

zebrafinch Tue 17-Dec-13 04:13:02

Take your time making decisions about your twin's ashes, keep them until you are ready to let them go. When you are ready and this may take some time you will know what to do.

Twinless Mon 16-Dec-13 20:33:27

Thank you Stickysausages I didn't think to mention how I was feeling to the funeral directors. They have been so lovely, a real gift and guided me through so much i.e. us and my then my DS viewing her body, so I hope they will try to help me make sense of how I feel about taking her home.

Yes, now my birthday visit "home" looks cancelled I'm in no rush to make a decision about her ashes. I was trying to do the right thing, to my detriment really, about my DM having her but I;m getting more and more convinced that I should keep her here with me.

Thank you, and everyone, for the advice and support

stickysausages Mon 16-Dec-13 19:53:37

The funeral director will guide you, and they will be sensitive.

Keep the ashes wherever you feel comfortable, when you feel stronger, you can decide what to do with them

Twinless Mon 16-Dec-13 19:46:15

I've told my Dad I'm not coming down for my birthday and he understands, said I need to do whats best for me. He doesn't get involved with family issues (my parents are divorced) but even he said I didn't deserve my DM going off at me. I'm leaving the ball in her court now and maybe I'll just go ahead with the plans I made with my twin for our birthday anyway (going to a posh tea room).

I had to hand the keys to her flat in today which was so hard. It feels final, like there's nowhere that's hers anymore and nowhere I can go to see her. It was becoming harder and harder to go there any sort things out so it sounds awful to say but it was an emotional milestone round my neck but at the same time, I didn't want another piece of her gone. So I do have conflicting emotions about today.

Tomorrow I'm picking up her ashes. I'm not sure how I'm going to feel about that. Part of me is starting to feel very protective of them, I really don't want to give them to my DM and I know my twin wouldn't have wanted DM to have her but I thought my DM should have her daughter. Now I don't want her ashes to be so far away from me with someone who caused us so much pain and continues to do so for me.

I'm also a bit scared of holding them, knowing what they represent, would it be too painful? My DH has offered to carry them home but I'm feeling that she would want me to hold them. I was the person who loved her no matter what, was there for her, who tried to save her, held her hand and stroked her face as she passed - I'm scared the finality and symbolic enormity of the ashes will be too much for me to cope with.

Thank you for listening...

stickysausages Mon 16-Dec-13 16:10:09

thanks be kind to yourself & do whatever's needed to make things bearable. Cream cakes & wine have helped me through some hard times. So sorry for your loss x

zebrafinch Mon 16-Dec-13 06:04:39

Twinless don't get pressurised into spending your birthday in a manner that others choose for you.
Birthdays will always be difficult because your twin is not there. Spend the day how you want to , sometimes it is better to have space to sit quietly and think about your twin on your birthday than have to join in with people who are trying to do what they think is best for you.

Mishmashofstyles Sun 15-Dec-13 22:48:32

You sound kind, sensible, and thoughtful. You must have been such a wonderful sister for your twin. I am sure you brought her joy in your little family unit.
Look after yourself.
Stick up for yourself.

I'm very sorry for your loss.

Twinless Sun 15-Dec-13 22:20:41

Thank you so, so much for your kind words KeziaK I really hope she is x

KeziaK Sun 15-Dec-13 21:11:35

You have been such a good sister and twin. You were faithful and true from beginning to end. With a profound love and loyalty like that you are going on to mourn.
Your sister must have been so proud of you.

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