While this resource refers to the death of a twin, it is equally applicable to the death of a child from any other multiple pregnancy. 

I always wonder how tall he would be, how his body would be changing and how he would be having his hair cut. I think this could be the same if he was a single baby but is more acute because you’ve got another child exactly the same age and going through the same stages. 

Lucy, whose twin son died aged two

The death of a twin, whether during pregnancy, during birth or in childhood, brings with it a particular kind of grief. Grieving for one child while investing in the growth and development of their twin presents a different set of challenges to those faced by parents where a child who is not a twin has died. While the way any parent grieves will have similarities, when a twin dies there are particular complexities and considerations.

Being pregnant with twins is for most families an exciting prospect and one that involves making a mental adjustment with regard to the way you see yourself as a parent, your family, and your future, to include not one but two babies. 

The death of any child brings with it the loss of hopes and dreams for the future; the death of a twin baby or child also brings the loss of a particular identity you’ve accepted as parents or expectant parents of twins, one which can feel daunting, but is also seen as special in most cultures.  

Added to this, your surviving child will be a reminder of what you have lost in the child that died and, as they mature and reach milestones such as starting school, you will be acutely aware of what ‘should have been’. 

Why are my emotions so mixed? 

You have to grieve part time. It’s an impossible situation, no matter how many parenting classes you’ve been to, you’re not prepared for it; it’s completely new and so is grieving in that way.  I’d lost grandparents and a close friend but it's not the same kind of thing. It's like the core of you has been pulled to pieces.

Vicky, whose daughter Cece was stillborn, twin of her son Frankie

When a new baby is born, most families experience feelings of hope and joy. When a twin baby dies - either before, during or after birth - the happiness about the arrival of your new baby is likely to be accompanied by difficult feelings, such as intense sorrow, anguish, numbness and shock. Some parents say they feel conflicted about giving attention to their surviving child even though it’s natural that they should want to do this.  

Some parents we have supported at Child Bereavement UK tell us they can experience feelings of guilt, wondering whether they were to blame in some way for their child’s death or if they could have prevented it, even though these feelings may be irrational. This may also be accompanied by worry that you’re not able to give your surviving child the attention you wish to.

Some parents may also feel anxious about their surviving baby, concerned that they too might become unwell or die. While it’s normal to feel such a range of emotions, it can help to share how you’re feeling with someone you trust such as friends and family, health professionals, or a bereavement support practitioner who can help you to find ways to manage these difficult feelings. 

It’s important to acknowledge that you are not only a parent but that you are also a bereaved parent. Try to find space and time to express your grief; by being honest and open about your feelings you will help yourself adjust to the reality of the death of your baby or child. Let others around you know what you need so that they can support you when you find it difficult to cope. View our resource for more on grieving for a baby

Grieving while caring for your surviving baby or child

It can’t be all consuming because you have another child to care for and another child to love. We were so happy with Frankie and he was such a lovely baby, it was part-time grieving.

Vicky, whose daughter Cece was stillborn, twin of her son Frankie

Grieving for your child that has died while also caring for your newborn or surviving child can feel overwhelming. You may feel you don’t have the time or space to express your grief and that simply functioning day to day is a challenge. 

Others around you may unhelpfully feel that you should be pleased to have your surviving baby or child and encourage you to focus on them. However, your grief for your child who has died is as legitimate as that of any bereaved parent and it does not mean you love your surviving child any less. It’s important to give yourself time to grieve alongside caring for your other child.

By being open about grieving and acknowledging the death of your child, you will not be compromising your relationship with your surviving child. Instead, as they develop, you will be showing your child that it is OK to feel sad and to remember, giving them permission and the tools to express their own feelings as their understanding of their sibling’s death develops. 

See on resource for more looking after yourself when you're bereaved. 

Having questions

It’s natural that you may need to understand why your baby or child died and to wonder if something could have been done to prevent their death. Where there is a surviving twin, this can be particularly difficult as you may be anxious that something might happen to them too. It’s natural to have doubts and to need to seek answers. Your consultant, midwife, or other health professional involved in your care, will usually be happy to discuss what happened and to address any concerns you may have. Many families say that while this can be upsetting, it can also be very helpful. 

Why is my partner grieving differently?

It was more of a physical experience for me. I think my body was in shock for months, I didn’t allow too much of the thought processes to take over, everything was physical. John, my husband, had more in his head to deal with. It was possibly more traumatic for John, he had to take on what had happened very quickly; phone calls had to be made, things had to be sorted out. He had to cope, whereas I was dealing with my body.

Vicky, whose daughter Cece was stillborn, twin of her son Frankie

Couples are likely to grieve in different ways and at different times, which can sometimes lead to one feeling that the other doesn’t fully understand or acknowledge how they are feeling. Some people tend to focus on the pain of their loss and are very much concerned with their feelings while others may cope by wanting to try to return to some kind of normality as soon as possible. 

Given how different these responses can be, there is potential for real misunderstanding, and each partner often needs help in understanding things from the other’s perspective. It might help to remember that you are both grieving but expressing it in different ways. Some couples find it helpful to speak to someone outside the relationship, like a bereavement support practitioner. 

How might the death of a twin baby affect a grandparent?

When your grandchild dies, dealing with your own grief while having to witness the grief of your son or daughter, can feel like a double loss. One grandmother commented that this ‘double loss’ is a grief unique to grandparents. While you will want to be supportive to your grieving child, it is also important to be kind to yourself too and acknowledge that you are also grieving. 

Often grandparents of twins can be very involved in their care, particularly if one twin has been unwell. Like parents, grandparents may also feel a sense of guilt at enjoying their surviving grandchild while grieving for their grandchild who has died. 

It can often be helpful to talk to someone outside of the immediate situation, such as other family members and friends so you can find a way to be supportive of your son or daughter while giving yourself time to process your own grief.

How can others support a bereaved parent?

I need to acknowledge I had twins. I need to know that my love for him lasts forever.

When a twin baby or child has died, others may erroneously think it will help the parents to concentrate on the surviving twin and try to forget the one that has died, or that speaking about the child who has died will be upsetting for the family. However, parents we have supported at Child Bereavement UK tell us they find it hurtful when people avoid talking about what has happened and they find it helpful when people acknowledge their baby or child who has died, talk about them and use their name. 

Talking about their baby or child is not reminding them what has happened, they will never forget that. It's about acknowledging that their child existed, which can feel supportive to many grieving parents. View our resource for more on supporting a grieving adult. 

How can I help my other children understand what has happened?

Every year we go to Blake’s grave – we make a point of doing that. It’s important for Quentin because he’s an identical twin which is kind of a curse and a godsend.

Zara, whose son Blake, twin brother of Quentin, died at birth 

The more truthful you can be and more open the better we have found. The fact she doesn’t have her twin will be with her forever. We’ve found that giving a ladder of knowledge of information about what’s happened has really helped.

Lucy, whose son died aged two, twin brother of her daughter 

Children’s understanding of what death means varies with their stage of development. What you tell your surviving twin and any other siblings about your baby or child who has died will depend on their age and level of understanding.  

Children are often involved in preparations for the new babies and may have talked about things they were going to do with their new brothers or sisters. They need to understand why this is not going to happen to help them cope with their own, and others’ feelings.

A clear and honest explanation will help a child start to make sense of a situation even if they don’t completely understand what has happened. What they are not told they can often make up, which can cause further confusion and distress. View our resource for more on explaining stillbirth, miscarriage or the death of a baby to a  young child 

Families we have supported say that it helps to talk about the baby or child who has died and to make them part of family life. Finding ways to remember might perhaps include having a photo of them on display or keeping a memory box filled with items that remind you of them and can be used as a way of initiating conversations about them and exploring your children’s feelings.

It’s important to answer children’s questions clearly and in age-appropriate language. Try not to pre-empt their questions but allow your child to lead and ask questions as and when they are ready. If a child is asking questions, it’s usually because they need to hear and are ready to hear the answers.  

How can I remember my twin child?

We have special days when we celebrate our son and do something he loved to do. We talk about him whenever we get the opportunity. We have his beloved toy that comes with us most places on holiday. Also they had baby blankets, a girl version and a boy version. I sewed these together and our daughter has this with her in her bed.  


Sometimes when you lose a child you feel like you can’t talk about them and it’s really important to feel that you can. They are part of your life and your soul. It’s something that you need to express and not always in the past tense.


Remembering your child, although it may be painful, is also a way of acknowledging their life, however short, and their importance to you. When a baby dies at or before birth there are fewer memories. Some parents gather together everything they have to put into a memory box or memory book. If your baby died before birth you may have precious mementos and hospital appointment cards and scan images. You can keep these in a special, private place or share them with friends and family, and with your surviving twin child, in time. 

When you are grieving, days like birthdays and anniversaries can feel painful and difficult to manage. It’s important to be kind to yourself and do what works for you and your family and in a way that also makes occasions special for the surviving twin. Perhaps you could have two birthday cakes - one for the twin who has died to remember them and one for the surviving twin. Or you could do something together to remember them like lighting a candle or making a card. The best way is to talk about what you’d like to do as a family, without making assumptions, and involve your surviving twin in those discussions.

For further information and support: