I’ve been hearing statements like this lately:
“I know my problems are nothing compared to what you’re going through.”
“My loss isn’t as painful as yours.”
I say this with the greatest abundance of love: Stop it.
You see, I lost a child a couple of years ago. It is the most painful experience I believe anyone can go through and I struggle to put my grief into words. (But I try.)
When Nick first died, I accepted and required sympathy, condolences, and support from friends and family. Sharing it with others was important because, at the time, I could not do it on my own. I also needed to make it into my identity because I felt that it was not only a part of me, it WAS me: I was a mother who lost a child.
Things have changed a bit over the past couple of years. I still grieve for my son every single day, but I’ve accepted it and I’ve realized that I’m so much more than “that mom.” My process has changed also. I don’t need or even want to share my grief with anyone anymore. My heartache is not only personal now, but private.
There is no one right way to navigate through the rough rivers of loss, especially child loss. My way doesn’t make it the right way, only right for me. The various ways to grieve are as numerous as the number of grieving parents.
Of course, I will talk about my son all day long if you want. About how he was such a funny child obsessed with bugs. How he grew into a beautiful young man. About the time we let him skip school to attend ComicCon with us. And how he always said “I love you” before getting off the phone or leaving the house.
But I won’t talk to you about his death or my grief. And that’s OK. It’s my process. There is no wrong way to do it.
My Grief Doesn’t Diminish Yours
I have friends who are navigating some distressing times. One is wading her way through a difficult divorce. One just lost her dad to cancer. And most of the world is dealing with the fallout of the Coronavirus, like sickness, job loss, and anxiety.
But your grief or sorrow due to whatever circumstances you find yourself in aren’t diminished or somehow lessened because you feel like it’s “not as hard” as what I went, and am going, through.
Please don’t feel like you need to compare the extent of your pain to mine. While we are all connected, we are each unique and individual in our life circumstances and how we respond to those circumstances. Don’t feel like you need to withhold your pain from me. And please share with me if it helps. I won’t judge.
In addition, I am careful not to compare as well. Yes, my loss and the resulting pain is beyond words. But I don’t feel like it is somehow more important than yours or that your suffering is somehow less than mine.
There are plenty of parents in this world who have lost children. There are plenty of others who are struggling with other difficulties or losses. Everyone is going through something.
Let’s all show compassion for each other regardless of what each of us is struggling with.
Love to you all.