11 July 2022

In 2003, Gary Anderson and his wife Michelle suffered a heartbreaking tragedy that no family should ever have to go through.

Within days of their twin girls Alana and Dana being born, Alana died and just weeks later, Dana passed away.

At the time the couple supported each other as best they could and praised medical staff for the help they gave them on their devastating journey.

Gary has written a deeply touching and honest story in the hope of helping families who have lost their babies.

Alana and Dana were diagnosed with Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome when Michelle was pregnant. TTTS is a rare but life-threatening condition that affects 10 to 15% of identical twins that share a placenta (monochorionic twins). TTTS can also occur in triplet or higher order pregnancies with monochorionic twins.

His incredible legacy to his daughters, entitled ‘Daddy and the Two Bears’, takes readers on an emotional rollercoaster as we learn about Michelle’s pregnancy and the months that followed.

Daddy and The Two Bears front cover

Now a qualified counsellor and successful motivational speaker, Gary wants to encourage men to speak about their feelings, not be afraid to cry and think about their mental health.

Gary said he grew up being told that ‘men don’t cry’ and it would be a weakness if you were seen to be crying.

He wants to encourage men and the next generation now that it’s perfectly fine and important to show and express your emotions.

This is one of the many things he now teaches through the talks he gives in schools regarding mental health.

Michelle and Gary both suffered unspeakable grief and battled with coping with life after losing their twins.

He said: “The book came about because I couldn’t speak to Michelle about what had happened. I originally wrote the outline of the book for her. It is my story to her, words that I wasn’t able to say out loud. It was during this process that I realised that there were hundreds, if not thousands, of men out there, just like me, unable to express painful feeling so I decided I needed to get this book out there into the public domain.

“The books gets people to talk and to open up to each other.”

Gary said the book is for anyone affected by baby loss, from parents who have lost a baby to relatives or medical staff who are involved in baby loss during their work.

Lockdowns in 2020 gave Gary the chance to sit down and write more. Reliving the tragic moments actually acted as therapy for Gary, who says he didn’t grieve properly following the deaths of Alana and Dana. From his childhood, he has suffered with his mental health but embarked on therapy himself which is also echoed in the book.

He said: “Lockdown allowed me to do more with my writing. Writing this book allowed me to grieve more than I ever had. It brought back memories, memories I had suppressed."

I share my deepest thoughts. Eventually, you have to let it out somewhere.

Using Michelle’s notes and diary dates from the time, he penned his honest story, speaking openly about how they both felt and the incredibly tough decisions he and Michelle faced together.

He added: “We have got to talk and admit we are struggling at times. It is okay to feel down. We need to acknowledge how we are feeling, it helps.”

Feedback on the book, which was published in March 2021, has been amazing, Gary said. He has welcomed positive reviews from Cherie Blair, wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair and broadcaster and journalist John Stapleton. Actor and comedian Paul Whitehouse wrote the foreword for the book. His best friend Michael, who Gary said had only ever read one book, sat down with the book and read it from cover to cover without stopping. This is a common comment in the reviews, too, people can’t stop reading it once they start.   Michael features prominently in the story, as the friend who Gary calls on repeatedly as someone to lean on.

Gary Anderson with Daddy and the Two Bears book

Gary continues to spread the word about ‘Daddy and the Two Bears’, keeping Dana and Alana’s legacy going and with an aim of helping as many other people as he can. There are two more books planned that complete Gary’s life story before and after the time of ‘Daddy and the Two Bears’.

He said: “I am writing my books to share my life story with others to show that a life with ill mental health and tragedy does not have to be the end. I’m sharing my experience of losing twin daughters in’ Daddy and the Two Bears’ as I know that there are parents whose grief cripples their every step, as it did mine, for so long.

“As a public speaker, I talk openly about my life story in the hope that it will help others, especially regarding their mental health.”

Gary’s book is available to buy on Amazon.