Twin Research

Pre Congress Symposium

How Mothers Cope with the Death of a Twin or Higher Multiple

Patricia B. Swansona1 c1, Jillian G. Pearsall-Jonesa2 and David A. Haya3

a1 School of Psychology, Curtin University of Technology, Australia. p.swanson@curtin.edu.au

a2 School of Psychology, Curtin University of Technology, Australia; Education Department of Western Australia.

a3 School of Psychology, Curtin University of Technology, Australia.

Abstract

Estimates suggest up to 15% of multiples grow up as singleton survivors. Few studies have reported how bereaved multiple birth mothers with a surviving multiple cope with their bereavement. Using the population-based Western Australian Twin Child Health study database and other sources, we interviewed 66 bereaved mothers with at least one surviving multiple. For many, this contact was the first acknowledgement of their status as multiple birth mothers since their loss. The Beck Depression Inventory 2nd Edition (BDI) showed significant reduction in depression between the time of loss and our interview. For mothers as a group there was a high correlation between current and retrospective BDI, and retrospective BDI and all three Perinatal Grief Scales (PGS). There was a significant correlation between the three grief factors on the PGS. When subdivided, this held for mothers who suffered a loss at or before the neonatal period, but not for those whose loss occurred later. Bereaved mothers of multiples scored significantly higher on the PGS than the PGS norm for bereaved mothers of singletons, which we attribute to others not acknowledging their grief, and/or recruitment differences. There were no significant differences in PGS scores related to cause, the time since death, or sibling number or age. Spiritual beliefs and finding meaning in loss were positively related to scores for adjustment and acceptance. Although traumatised, most mothers accommodated their losses meaningfully in their lives. Their own support recommendations are included.

Correspondence:

c1 Address for correspondence: Patricia B. Swanson, GPO Box U1987, Perth WA 6845, Australia.

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