How will Patrick's death affect my children?
I know that they are only young, and Florence definitely is not affected by anything at the moment, but what about later? Will they be psychologically damaged? Will they be emotionally stunted? Will they lack self-esteem? Will they worry about life and death? Maybe they will question their place in the family? Will Florence think that she is a 'replacement child'? Will Shay take on a burden of being the only son when there should be two?
Whenever Shay talks about his baby sister, I always mention his baby brother. Is this 'right'? His relationship with Patrick and his relationship with Florence will always be different. Maybe I should be allowing him to have a relationship with Florence without Patrick? Am I distorting his image of a sibling relationship? How can he possibly know who Patrick is and then work out how Patrick relates to Florence? He has never physically seen Patrick. Does looking at a photo and saying, 'this is your baby brother', confuse him? Is Patrick a person to him or simply a photo? Can he understand that Patrick and Florence are the same because they are both his siblings, but yet they are different because one is with us and the other is not?
Should I just leave Patrick's photo on the wall and wait for Shay to ask? But, then we go to the grave together, or 'Patrick's Castle' as Shay calls it. Maybe Shay, and eventually Florence, will just accept that this is how it is and not really question it the way that I do?
I have obviously been reading too much about this at the moment... But still. It makes me wonder. Maybe it is not so much how they view Patrick, but about the security, love, and comfort which they feel growing up? Maybe it is all about providing them with a stable and grounded upbringing? Maybe, as long as this is the foundation, then the fact that they have a sibling who has died, will not affect them negatively or harm them developmentally? Is there even grounds for worrying about this in the first place?
I want Patrick to be a 'normal' part of their life. How do I strike the balance of making him a part of the family, but allowing them to have an upbringing which is not overshadowed by grief? I suppose this is the million dollar question.