More Stories of Replacement Dynamics

Lately in my reading of fiction I keep stumbling across examples of replacement dynamics! Fascinating. I think that loss is so painful for us that the urge to replace and fill the void is quite common.

I just finished This is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel. In the backstory of the book, a young girl, Rosie, loses her sister to cancer. Grown-up Rosie describes her hope and wish to have a daughter, and to name her after her deceased sister, Poppy. Even as she gives birth to her last child (and waits to learn of its gender; she is hoping to finally have a girl) she speaks the name of Poppy as she pushes the infant into the world.

While I have primarily researched subsequent children and their dealings with replacement dynamics, it is fascinating to think about how a loss can be carried into following generations, and how there can be an ongoing hope to replace a lost sibling or child. There is some research which suggests that subsequent children (who often feel like “inadequate replacements” themselves) might sometimes try to provide a replacement with their own offspring; the need to replace is ongoing.  Surviving siblings may also feel a drive to replace, in their own identities or, as in this book, in their children.

In an interesting twist in Laurie Frankel’s fictional book, the infant is born as a son, but is transgender, and she later takes the name of Poppy. I recommend the book, by the way, which tells the heartfelt story of a transgender child and her lovable family.



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