Writing a Children’s Book About Loss
By Valerie R. Samuels
In 2002 I gave birth to full term twin daughters Gina and Julia. We knew that Gina would be born with some health challenges, but in no way prepared for her death just 9 days after her birth. At that time, I knew of no one personally who had lost a twin before or shortly after birth. Living without Gina hurt our hearts so deeply. I also felt grief and deep sorrow for my surviving twin Julia who would grow up without her womb mate. I grieved for our 4 older surviving children who would never get to know their sister Gina.
A year after Gina’s death I founded a community ministry of support for bereaved parents called “A Mother’s Heart”. Located in Mitchellville, MD I hosted a monthly support group for parents who had lost a child before, during or after birth. I attended Perinatal and Infant Loss Conferences where I sought books and materials for myself and other bereaved parents. I began to observe that there were no books for children who had lost their twin. I thought of my own young surviving twin and knew such a book would be a helpful resource for her.
The idea for writing a book for children who lost their twin came to me in 2004 at the 14th National Perinatal Bereavement Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. The speakers and workshops were wonderful. The bookstore materials on grief were numerous. However, I could not find a book for young children who have experienced the death of their twin sibling. It was at this conference that I decided to write and publish the kind of book I was seeking. My book would be called Always My Twin, a book for young children who experienced the death of their twin sibling. After bringing my friend and illustrator Najah Clemmons on board, I was off to make this vision a reality. Published in 2005, Always My Twin gave me the opportunity to tell the story of how my family grieved the death of one twin while helping our surviving twin and her siblings make new memories. The most powerful message I wanted to relay was that this is a relatable story for any child and family who have walked through or are walking through a child loss journey.
The story begins with a family joyfully anticipating the birth of twin girls. Sadly, a loss occurs and the family mourns. The book is narrated by the surviving twin child who shares many meaningful ways she and her family actively remember her twin. This book is a wonderful resource for any home library. It helps to facilitate the conversation about the death of a young sibling in both multiple losses or singleton births. My surviving twin Julia, now age 19, says this book has been helpful to her as she was growing up. This comforts my heart as I know her heart has been comforted.