This morning I opened up my email and saw that there was a post on a very interesting blog about my book, Replacement Child, on A Storied Career blog http://tinyurl.com/342co2h.
The author of the blog, Kathy Hansen, had seen my book and understood immediately what was meant by the term ‘replacement child’ because she is one herself. The circumstances are quite different, not a plane crash, but a car crash that killed her sister before she was born. Nevertheless, the tragedy was part of her life growing up and part of the way she grew to view herself and her place in the world. She always wished for her big sister to be in her life, and even hoped she would come back for even a day. I had a similar feeling that I always wondered how the dynamics of my family would have been different if Donna had lived through the plane crash and fire. I also wonder if Kathy ever felt the responsibility I did to live up to the promise of her big sister–the life she might have had. I know that there are many types of replacement children–those who replaced siblings who died from accidental deaths, tragic circumstances and natural causes. It is always intriguing to me the different forms the impact of the role has on an individual.
Do you relate to any of the following possible effects of being a replacement child for one who died:
– Identity issues: establishing your own unique identity outside of the role of being a replacement for the child who died?
– Issues of abandonment. This sometimes is the case when parents cannot be totally present for the replacement child. In my case, for example, my father never really got over losing his eldest daughter–and I believe unconsciously did not forgive me for being alive when she was not. His ongoing grief and resentment removed him in an essential way.
– Issues of rejection. Sometimes fear of rejection, which a replacement child might feel in a more intense way from parents who may still be grieving, plays itself out later in life in a replacement child’s relationships. In my case, I know that my own fear of rejection, of being left, often pushed me to be the one to leave first.
If you are a replacement child of any kind–tell us your story. Did you have a sibling who died before you were born? Did you lose a brother or sister early in your childhood? Are you a parent who decided to have another child after losing one?
I look forward to hearing your stories, and will also follow Kathy’s blog as well.