I follow this gal on IG who is a young widow with two young children. This conversation of comparison came up for her in her everyday life after other ladies were complaining to her about their husbands were out of town for a couple of days. She acknowledged that everyone's "hard is hard", but we have to look around and "KNOW OUR AUDIENCE". It would have been kinder if these other gals would have just not; just not said anything in her presence. But they did and it sparked a debate when she posted a funny reel about it on IG. She used a hashtag #healingwithhumor (because as a widow...do we really have any other choice)?
After sifting through the 200+ comments on her post, it became a HUGE comparison game with a few. I'd say 98% were with her and behind her, but there were these few that said more hurtful things. Comparing their spouse being away in the service and them having to be a single mom, again comparing their husband being a fisherman and being gone for 90 days at a time, and just being a divorced parent and having to share kids. One person went on to say that "hard is hard" and we would all want to swap our 'hards' with somebody else and that most people are guilty of complaining to the wrong person and it probably wasn't intentional. OK...I understand this point, but NO, NOPE, NO WAY would ANYONE want to swap MY HARDS with anyone else. If someone could honestly tell me that has a spouse, child, sibling that they would rather swap my deaths with their hards so they could have a break or whatever...I'd say "you are definitely a terrible human being". I also do understand that it's perspective and when I initially read this gals response...I fired off like I just did. That is 1000% what is wrong with technology and socials. You read what you see, you jump to conclusion, but in all honesty...maybe this person is right? But..I feel that it's called empathy people!! The meaning of empathy is: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. It all goes back to knowing your audience. If you are having a fight or hard time with your spouse, please don't go spill it over to your widow friend who is drowning; if your hard is your child going to college and now your an empty nester, don't confide and cry to your friend who's child has died and will never get to go to college. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE and READ THE ROOM. Hopefully, you can confide and lean into another friend who may be in the same boat as you and understand what you are going through.
Which leads me into the comparison game of death. ALL losses are hard, I completely understand that (which is what I'm launching in July-stay tuned for a look into losses and finding the light again), but I've seen it happen, I've heard it happen, it's not okay or fair to even compare deaths. I've seen where people compare a spouses death with "wow your lucky you got time to say goodbye to your husband - my husband died instantly"; okay yes, very tragic very sad, but let's not compare this okay. The finality is the same for both of us...we are widow's or widower's now and we both are left alone and navigating a life we never asked for. So, instead of comparing lets lean in together and find the light and the path together. Whatever and wherever the experience lands; loss is loss - grief is grief
I was part of a mom's group after Garret died; these ladies were all a little bit older than me and had all lost children in their late teens to early adulthood. I was the only one who had lost a child at the age of one. I was timid because I thought to myself "wow, they had their kids for longer than I did" and "they have been grieving longer than me, so they know how to do it". OKAY...these were my naive comparison's in my own head. When I went to the very first meeting...I learned VERY quickly that I was SO wrong and that there was NO comparing any of our deaths no matter the age, the time, the anything and also no one knows how to grieve better just because it's been 15+ years. What I walked away with and was able to build my grief journey on and can now hopefully guide and teach all of you is that...we were all grieving the same thing. We were grieving the future that was stolen from us, we were grieving the part of us that died, we were grieving for our spouses and other children (if that was the situation) because we as mother's feel the need to fix and protect all. I learned from that moment on, that there is definitely NO room for comparison anytime, but in death NEVER.
So, how can we do better as a whole?
- Choose to not engage in any situation that fuels your fire.
- Look deep into your soul and what you know is truth and what you do well
- Focus on growth. I think when you are a widow/widower this is one of the most important things we can do. We have to focus so hard on each minute of the day just trying to get through that we don't have time to compare. Accomplishing a small task is growth - pat yourself on the back for that one.
- Gratitude upon gratitude - Grace upon grace.
- Learn to compete with yourself and not others. (I saw this one somewhere and I thought this was a good one). Show up each day for yourself, journal in the morning and make a list - if you got one thing done on that list you won! If you didn't...you know tomorrow is a new day and you will try again. This puts all your attention onto you and your healing journey and not looking at how others are doing theirs.
If there's any benefit we can take from grief being a universal experience, it should be that we're able to have compassion and empathy towards what others are going through. And we know the value of honoring and respecting the significance of each other's losses. (taken from "What's your grief" - Dec 2, 2020).
I hope this blog was good for you and not coming off as a lecture of sort. I truly believe most people are good and I know that we live in a VERY opinionated world. I also understand that people don't know what to say or what to do when death happens...people really don't know until they do unfortunately. But, the takeaway from this blog is for you to see that yes, comparison is the thief of joy and how can I, ANGIE, help you find the light and joy without comparing any of our situations with others. All loss is hard, grief is hard and exhausting. Let's all do BETTER TOGETHER and help each other out from our loss to light.