The Twinless Twin


I first heard this term mentioned today by someone who commented on a post I made to the ACEs Too High blog. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this site and its companion, ACEs Connection, I’d encourage you to visit. It’s a great resource for those of us trying to make sense of childhood trauma, whether it was abuse or neglect, while seeking support from kindred seekers.

Casey was a twinless twin. We were wide open with her about everything we knew, but we never told her about her twin sister who was stillborn for fear it would freak her out. We planned on telling her when she was “old enough” to handle it. At what age that might have been I can only guess. Olsen-Twins-mary-kate-and-ashley-olsen-17173254-1280-1651

After her death, and armed with the knowledge I gained from the experts about early childhood trauma, I spent a lot of time trying to imagine her experience of living in the womb with a kindred spirit and then being separated forever. Did her sister die in utero or at birth? Casey was born first, her sister second, dead. That’s all I know. Her t

herapists never followed up on this crucial bit of information. Yet when I connected with a Bay Area adoption therapist and shared this with her, I asked, “Do you think Casey knew about her twin?”

The answer was, of course, “Yes, on some level.”

Here is the comment from my post. It’s very illuminating.

Many people do not realize that the loss of a twin, even in utero or at birth, leaves the surviving twin with a profound sense of loss that is inexplicable to anyone not born of multiple birth. There is a bond that forms between twins and higher order children like triplets that is unique to children of multiple births and starts in the womb.

The tantrums, the crying jags, the defiance, a sense of isolation are all common to twinless twins, regardless of the age they lost their twins. I think that this more primal loss was the real factor in Casey’s pain and what eventually led to her death. Many twins, who lose their twins at an older age, turn to suicide because they cannot take the separation from their twin.

This is something that you may not have heard of or understood. I think it is important though, given Casey’s background.

Wow. That blew my mind.

There is even a support group for twinless twins, called Twinless Twins Support Group International. It was founded by Dr. Raymond Brandt, who lost his identical twin at the age of 20. The group exists to support and help twins who lost their twin, either through death, adoption, separation or estrangement. Their website is


9 thoughts on “The Twinless Twin

  1. I met a twinless twin a long time ago. She knew, on several levels – logical, emotional, and spiritual, that she had a sister and her sister was still with her. Her identical twin was lost shortly after birth and her parents wove the love of their lost child into their everyday life. I was pre-teen when I met her and I loved the idea that they shared the short life as a real life. Perhaps that concept stayed with me and allowed me to survive the loss of my son. I could have lost him 8 years earlier so I feel blessed to have that extra time with him.

    This is an excellent article and I didn’t know their was an organized group. That is exceptionally delightful to know.

    • Thanks! So many times we wondered what if? What if Casey knew? What if her sister survived? What I do know now is that they ARE reunited on the other side.


  2. My daughter is also a twinless twin. They suffered from Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS) and our recipient baby developed hydrops from fluid overload. She passed at two days old. I do believe my daughter recognizes the loss of her sister. I can see it in the way she has always shown such an interest in other babies, even from a very early age. I had heard about the Twinless Twin, but never checked out the organization. Thanks for sharing this resource!

  3. Pingback: The Twinless Twin • Social Justice Solutions

  4. Wow. I just cannot get enough of the “Twinless Twin” phenomenon. I, too, am a twinless twin. We were fraternal. I knew that there was something missing from me. And at 38, 39 in a few months time, I still feel the bond between me and my brother. My mother revealed to me at eight years of age that she had two boys. I asked her how kids did she have, and that’s when she revealed it to me. Now to those I’ve revealed this to, some have went to the extreme-even an ex girlfriend-saying that I was obsessed. Even if there is any truth in that, then it is what it is. But I say to this day, UNLESS you were a part of a multiple birth, you couldn’t comprehend it. In spite of the fact that I am the only [surviving] child in the family, I still claim my twinhood. And I do get jealous on occasion when I see twins. I work with twins, grew up with twins, attend service with twins, I’m virtually surrounded by twins, and I can identify with them even though my twin died at birth. I’d tell them that I’m a twin, and most of them believed me on the spot. But this emptiness can be a real pain! I’ve endured it since our birth together. The pain is still there, the loss is almost unbearable. Only thing that’s keeping me stable is the Bible’s promise of a resurrection promised by Jesus Christ at Revelation 21:3, 4. In recent months both my parents-mom for most part-have opened up more about the matter. And I guess they had no idea that it would still be a sensitive issue decades later. To this day, that bond between my brother and I remains very intact, very strong.

    “Once a twin, always a twin”
    -Dr. Raymond Brandt

  5. Hello J. Brooks,
    Sorry to hear about your loss. And I hope you find comfort in the memories of your daughter Casey. I am presently living with my boyfriend who is a twinless twin. And after reading and finding articles about “twinless twin” I can now understand and identify with some of his behaviour and attitudes. I was all confused at times and would get upset and want out, however, after reading up so much I now want to find a way in slowly intruducing the website of Dr. Raymond Brandt to him. So that he can also understand himself. Everything that is said about about “Twinless twin” is so true. I also lost my mother a year and a half ago, so that I share the grief of you John and your wife. How ever I will keep posted. Keep the faith and God bless.

    • Thanks Anne-Marie for your very kind words. Yes the entire concept of “twinless twin” was something I stumbled into. If you’re interested my book, The Girl Behind The Door, is now available on Amazon and Kindle. The twin thing is kind of a bit part, as is the Golden Gate Bridge from which Casey jumped. But nonetheless I want to share Casey’s story with as many people as possible.

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