Surviving my twin sister's death by suicide

27 Dec 2018
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The anniversary of my twin sister, Catherine's death by suicide, is on January 6th. Since the end of the year and the new year is approaching, I'd like to share some thoughts on how I survived this life-changing event.

Of course I went through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. But you go through them in random order, and they come back over and over, not just once at a time.

I had to reconstruct my identity: as a twinless twin. I mostly felt shame that she was so depressed and died of suicide, and I didn't tell co-workers and very few friends. I was able to allow myself to feel happiness, worthiness, and gratitude in my life without her, through on-going counseling and taking meds for my diagnosis as having bipolar disorder.

Then there were especially significant events like our birthday. Being without her I had to find a way to include her on that day. Just by lighting a candle in her memory was helpful.

The anniversary of her death is the most difficult. She died on a holiday, called "Epiphany" where our family, with our grandparents and cousins got together, shared a special cake "la galette des rois" (the king's cake). We lost our Queen forever. However, she remains an integral part of our family on this special day.

To all those who have lost a loved one by suicide, let me just tell you that you can heal, you will heal, if you allow yourself to identify your feelings, accept them (don't deny or run away from them because they are there to be accepted as part of the healing process) and most important practice self-soothing. That can be by meditating, doing yoga, writing, any other way that you can consciously tell your brain to think positive thoughts about yourself, to come to terms with yourself and your suffering and see the joy in your life.

Lastly, Catherine stays in our hearts, in our memory and she will only truly die, when we forget her. That won't happen during my lifetime.

Christine

A Moodscope member.

A Moodscope member.

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Comments

the room above the garage

Dec. 27, 2018, 6:13 a.m.

Hello Christine, you write so elegantly about something so harsh and devastating. I am truly sorry for the loss of your twin, her spiritual self hopefully free and near. The words “our birthday” sit with me, I’m a parent of twins and this phrase has charmed me since they were old enough to squeal it on the day. You will feel her loss especially deep because the twin relationship is so entwined. Thank you for sharing her with us, now she is even more unforgotten. Xx

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Hopeful One

Dec. 27, 2018, 6:57 a.m.

Hi Christine-my heartfelt condolences to you for the loss of your twin sister. I imagine it is especially difficult a it would feels like one half of oneself has been lost forever . But you have gone about coming to terms with your loss is a very positive way . The key word here is acceptance I suppose for in going through that gate and closing it behind you , you have set yourself free by starting to put it in the past . The coming anniversary will be painful no doubt but on that day our thoughts will be with you. I have decided, in honour of your sister’s memory , to forego my trade mark contribution.

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Adrian

Dec. 27, 2018, 7:28 a.m.

Thank you for such a thoughtful and moving post. It speaks volumes. Ax

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Mary Wednesday

Dec. 27, 2018, 8:01 a.m.

Thank you Christine, for such an inspiring blog. Inspiring in that it gives hope and the promise of peace for those in similar circumstances. My father died by suicide 51 years ago, when it was still shameful; when the priest would not allow his coffin into the church but only to the lychgate at his funeral. My mother still members the gentle words of an elderly neighbour, "You must think of him as having been ill," she said; wise words for 1967. It is the illness of depression, which invades the body like a black cancerous tumour, which is responsible for these deaths. The loss of a sister, a twin, I cannot imagine. I love the things you do to remember.Thank you again, a wonderful blog, and I wish you joy at this season.

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rob

Dec. 27, 2018, 8:32 a.m.

Such a beautiful tribute to your wonderful sister - who remains with us to be sure! Thank you for sharing. Signed, a friend in San Francisco

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greenjean

Dec. 27, 2018, 8:38 a.m.

Thank you Christine for sharing such deep and heartfelt emotions about the tragic death of your twin. Such brave and helpful words for others, and thanks for sharing your feelings of guilt and shame, which must resonate and help those who have been in that situation. I cannot imagine the pain of your loss but hopefully sharing and encouraging others through similar situations will bring healing and acceptance. Wishing you and your family every strength and blessing as the anniversary approaches and that all your positive memories of your sister will be helpful in dealing with your sadness. Thank you for your openness and honesty

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Sally

Dec. 27, 2018, 8:48 a.m.

Thank you Christine, for writing so openly about this topic. I am a twin and whilst she ,my twin, is unaffected by depression, I am the one who gave the family concern about my “safety “, especially as a late teen. And suicide is something that has affected me recently, a dear friend took her life 18 months ago, and everyone who knew her well is still reeling, and coming to terms with the loss of a lovely woman who was beyond reach, alas, at the time she opted to end it. It is heartening to read that there IS a way through the many emotions that assail you, you sound amazing. Really. And Catherine will always live in your heart. Finally, I am a French speaker (in fact, bilingual) who has lived in France and Switzerland and have a background in languages , having also studied and taught them for nearly all my career. So when you wrote about la galette des rois, and the date on which your sister ended her life, I gasped, as this fête is so full of symbolism and even used to be a public holiday I seem to remember. What a date, how painful for you. Yes, entwined is a good word to describe the twin relationship, Room above the garage, I identify fully with that statement. Christine, I shall be thinking of you and the nearest and dearest connected to Catherine on the 6th January. My very best wishes to you for continued acceptance and relief from guilt about your twin sister’s death. And for a happy future even though she is no longer physically in your life. Sally xx

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Dragonfly

Dec. 27, 2018, 9 a.m.

There but for the grace of .... my son took an overdose yesterday and we spent Boxing Day afternoon in A&E with his wife. I felt my senses screaming that I couldn’t possibly cope if the worst were to happen. But he’s ok; physically at least. Christine you’ve shown the most incredible strength in finding a path to acceptance. I’m sure too that your sister’s presence will stay close to you forever.

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Valerie

Dec. 27, 2018, 9:52 a.m.

Oh I am so sorry.I can only hope this will bring him help and support, to prevent him feeling like this again.You and his poor wife,sending love and hugs xx

Sally

Dec. 27, 2018, 10:10 a.m.

Oh my goodness, Dragonfly! After all you’ve been through this year too. My heart goes out to you and thank Goodness he is ok, at least physically as you say. I bet you are soooooooo relieved! Please ensure he gets alllll the help he needs, from the experts, push hard! It is there, but you have to push all the time. Road travelled. He will be ok. Fingers and toes all crossed. For you, big hugs across the virtual world to you. Xx

Dragonfly

Dec. 27, 2018, 10:14 a.m.

Valerie and Sally, thank you for the good wishes and hugs, which I return most heartedly xx

Molly

Dec. 27, 2018, 11:54 a.m.

Oh Dragon, sorry to hear this. Thank *** he didn’t succeed. What an awful thing for you all. No words, just hugs xx

Oli

Dec. 27, 2018, 12:36 p.m.

@DF, :-( . Sincerely hoping everything works out.

Salt Water Mum

Dec. 27, 2018, 9:20 a.m.

Dear Christine, What a beautiful tribute to your twin. My thoughts are with you x Dear Dragonfly, How traumatic for you all but thankfully thankfully, he is okay. I hope your son finds the strength and help he needs. Take care of yourself too x

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Dragonfly

Dec. 27, 2018, 10:15 a.m.

Dear Swm. thank you xx

Valerie

Dec. 27, 2018, 9:58 a.m.

Hello Christine, I can't begin to know what this must have been like for you and your family.Thank ***,I have so far not lost anyone close to me through suicide,but I have seen the devastation in the lives of others.If anyone reading this is thinking of ending it all,please know there is help available,don't do this dreadful thing.Christine,thank you for writing this.xx

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Orangeblossom

Dec. 27, 2018, 10 a.m.

Hi Christine, thanks for your wonderfully thought-provoking & encouraging blog. I shall be thinking of you lots on 6th January as you commemorate Catherine. You seem to have worked hard to come so far on your Grief journey.

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Orangeblossom

Dec. 27, 2018, 10:07 a.m.

I read this quote a few years ago & found it on a slip of paper at home. It is by Mitch Albom: “When someone is in your heart, they’re are never truly gone. They can come back to you even at unlikely times.”

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Molly

Dec. 27, 2018, 11:46 a.m.

Dear Christine Such a sad, yet positive blog, it must have been hard for you to write. I cannot imagine how you coped and still cope but your words are so full of warmth and love and strength. Thank you for sharing such a painful experience. Molly xx

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Oli

Dec. 27, 2018, 12:34 p.m.

Christine -- what Molly said. I was trying to think, trying to feel, couldn't get close and I knew it.

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Mike

Dec. 27, 2018, 5 p.m.

This is beautiful, concise, and encouraging. Thank you so much for sharing your story and your progress. As someone grieving quite a bit this holiday season, your point about re-constructing your identity resonated especially. it's such a difficult process to wrap your head around - congratulations on having reached such clarity and courage, and thank you again for sharing.

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S

Dec. 28, 2018, 9:45 p.m.

Christine, thank you for sharing hope and about your precious twin sister. I will be thinking of you over the next few weeks, Sx

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