Finding Meaning in Quarantine

Is anyone else waking up each morning wondering what is the best way to shelter in place? What am I doing here that makes any difference?

I have gone through stages, sometimes all of them in one day. Depressed over the future. Over not seeing family and friends. Over the state of our government in a true crisis. Sadness over all the loss. Grateful for being well and for the health of my loved ones at this moment, tempered with my own brand of survivor’s guilt. In many ways it all feels very familiar.

One project I have embraced involves working closely with two of my replacement child brethren, Rita Battat Silverman and Kristina Schellinski to create the Replacement Child Forum ( Each has contributed a great service to this community in their own right. We come to the forum from three very different perspectives, though each of us is a replacement child. Rita is co-author, with Abigail Brenner, MD, of a collection of true stories of replacement children, Replacement Children The Unconscious Script. Kristina has authored a recent in-depth book, Individuation for Adult Replacement Children. And if you are on my blog, you already know about my memoir, Replacement Child.

Girl from Side with Colors

We have come together in an effort to fill a gap in awareness and to connect adult replacement children and therapeutic practitioners with in-depth information and resources to better understand the implications and long-term influence of this psychological condition. 

We are extremely grateful for the support of our Honorary Advisory Board members, the prestigious Albert C. Cain, Ph.D., and Andrea Sabbadini, Dott.,CPsychol. I’ll mention that it was initially Dr. Cain’s work with Barbara Cain in 1964, and their article On Replacing a Child, that first introduced me to the term replacement child while I was writing my book. If not for discovering their work I may never have realized that I indeed identified with many of the symptoms of the condition. That understanding led me down the path to uncovering how my story, and my life, was intensely influenced by growing up in the shadow of my sister.

As replacement children we often think we are insignificant, and less-than. I’m grateful for my new team of colleagues, and now close friends, who have helped me find meaning in my quarantine.

2 Commentsto Finding Meaning in Quarantine

  1. Dear Judy, I wish to express my great appreciation for our cooperation, together with Rita Battat Silverman which saw this truly creative project come into life in these difficult times: the website
    May this site help raise consciousness and give adult replacement children a message of hope and a place to share.

    Dear Penny, thank you for the beautiful poem on the compassion you feel for Vincent van Gogh, he who replaced his brother born on the same day, one year before, and was called by the same first name. I very much look forward to reading your collection of poems! The creative force connects you with your own unique soul!

  2. Thanks Judy, being conceived 2 months after her death I always “knew” I replaced my sister who passed away at 6 from leukemia in the Summer of ’59. My mother had also previously given away in adoption her first baby girl in ’46 so I faced a double void. I was 50 before I truly connected the dots of my condition and became conscious of it’s impact on the trajectory of my life. I’ve voraciiusly read everything I could get my hands on including Kristina’s new book.

    I continue to gain insight about myself and my mother reading and rereading poetry I penned while “unconscious”; the essence of my struggles cries out from those pages! I am greatful for your pioneering awareness of the Replacement Child condition as its denial by my older brothers who were also impacted by the losses of our sisters proved to be yet another blow to the realuty if my existence. One day I hope to assemble my poetry into a work that further lends veracity to the condition. Penny

    PS I wrote this ekphrastic poem looking at one of Vincent Van Gogh’s self poetry exploded once I truly “knew”


    I know you Vincent
    I see your bandaged ear
    I feel your experience
    Of replacing the others
    Your art sells for millions
    Melancholy and loneliness
    Were your somber tools
    Threatening skies
    And ill-omened crows
    Distorted form
    Arbitrary color
    Real life subject matter
    The painter
    The poet
    We are one

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