Throughout our lives it is meaningful to have others who believe in us. Attuned and loving parents habitually play this role as their child develops and matures. Other mentors may present themselves in the role of teacher, coach, grandparent, psychotherapist, or caretaker—each capable of playing a vital function in a child’s growth.
Some twin pairs will not have this experience. If the parents have not worked at making an attachment to each sibling rather than to the pair, the twins may end up being surrogate parents for each other. One may end up acting as the supportive, uplifting champion who enables his or her twin to feel confident and secure while growing up: “I am here for you, and I believe in you.”
While for some siblings this dynamic lasts a lifetime, for others the twin lifeline becomes severed. When this happens, who will provide the witnessing and mirroring for the twin who has come to depend upon this emotional security? Understandably, many twins are bereft when their twin no longer sustains their self-esteem and resilience. They discover that they are ill-equipped to prop themselves up without the twin cheerleading team. They do not trust themselves to go it alone. They are enraged as well as scared that the rug has been pulled from underneath them, and they anxiously look for solutions outside of themselves to keep going.
First, they must accept the loss, and then they can attempt to work through its consequences. Hopefully, they will emerge stronger and wiser. This is not always an easy task by any stretch of the imagination.