Tribute: Althea Hayton (1945-2014)

by Maria Moran

(pic courtesy of Wren publications)

Althea

Althea died peacefully at her home in St Albans, London, on August 13th 2014. May she rest in peace.

Althea was no stranger to Inside Out and her work in the area of ‘Womb Twin Survivors’ has been included on several occasions in this journal. The subject of ‘Womb Twin Survival’ is an important field of human experience which is just beginning to take its rightful place in the work of psychotherapy and Althea contributed greatly to this bank of knowledge. She leaves us a rich source of research, understanding and experience through her tireless dedication, hard work and passion in this area of expertise.

At the start of this century Althea discovered she was the sole survivor of a multiple pregnancy. As part of her own healing process and integration of this new awareness for herself, she embarked on a journey of research into the phenomenon which continued until her death. In 2007, six years into her work, Althea founded the website http://www.wombtwin.com – this website has been a wonderful source of information, support and conversation between womb-twin survivors, their families, professionals and other interested parties worldwide. I have no hesitation in saying that she has contributed hugely to the journey of healing for many survivors, transforming their understanding of who and how they are in the world, thus giving them the freedom to become more truly themselves. I first met Althea in 2007 at the first international conference of ‘Womb Twin Survivors’ in London. While I had known for some years before this meeting that I too was a womb twin survivor, I was, by then, at the stage of wanting to integrate this knowledge into my work as a psychotherapist. This conference provided the opportunity to experience first-hand, not only Althea’s knowledge on the subject but her warmth, interest in each individual and her passion for the topic and the task of spreading the word that was contagious. Encouraged by Althea’s pure energy and zeal I organised a workshop in Dublin the following year with Althea being our main speaker. It was a wonderful weekend and I realised what a dynamic character she was. Whatever Althea was involved in, she seemed to take it on with all her being, not sparing herself but growing in energy all the time as she involved herself fully. Her empathy and care for others was remarkable. A wonderful soul…she will be missed greatly by so many.

The following poem will demonstrate Althea’s way of living, even in her dying. She wrote it just 20 days before her death.

References:
Gill, A. (2007). Review: Untwinned perspectives on the death of a twin before birth. Inside Out, 52, 86-87.

Hayton, A. (2007). The lost twin in the therapy room. Inside Out, 53, 14-21.

Kay, S. (2009). Workshop: Womb twin survivors held in Dublin 2008. Inside Out, 57,
57-62.

Ward, S. (2009). Althea Hayton in conversation with Shirley Ward. Inside Out, 57, 13-
84
19.

The Dying Room

They brought me a blue bed,
such as sick people lie in
Soft and hard by turns,
too prosaic for such a task!

I want yards of muslin and embroidered roses
To beautify the banal fact of me
slipping into death.
And cloth of gold,
and angels with wings of snowy lace.

We found the sheets and pillow cases
For our unaccustomed little beds downstairs
Our giant mattresses left upstairs are empty,
un-slept, unturned.

We mustered the machinery for washing
The chair, table, ramp and rail
We shut the door at last,
our dying room created

And occupied the living room, while we could –
But what a comfort to know that, behind the wooden door
Is the kind of bed that sick people die in.
This bed offers comfort for the journey
And warmth and feelings of home.
Cushioned with love,
I will float
On my blue bed into the new world…

Althea Hayton 23 July 2014