Twin Research

Literature Review

Twin Death and Mourning Worldwide: A Review of the Literature

Elizabeth A. Pectora1 c1

a1 Spectrum Family Medicine, Illinois, USA.


Cultural beliefs about the nature of multiples appear in the mourning practices of many civilizations. Ethnographic literature suggests common themes that echo modern concepts. Many societies viewed twins as fragile, likely to die without preferential or meticulously equal treatment. A shared soul between twins is a common tenet, and the death of one is often felt to herald the other's prompt demise. The close relationship between multiples influences funerary rites. Honor, fear and mysticism are often evident in rituals. Twin infanticide was widely practiced, yet mourning customs were still observed. Many peoples recognize the special status of multiples and their families after one, two or more die.


c1 Address for correspondence: Elizabeth A. Pector, Spectrum Family Medicine,1220 Hobson Road, Suite 216, Naperville, Illinois 60540-8138 USA.