I’m not sure why some people find it necessary to compare the magnitude of their grief to others. One person’s loss doesn’t trump another person’s loss. Yes your mother died but my grandmother died and she was like a mother to me. Chronologically a mother trumps a grandmother right?
Never judge or question the depth of someone’s grief. Don’t criticize their process or progress. It is not up to us how another person grieves.
We have no idea the relationship someone had with their person. None of us knows what another person has experienced that affects their grief. It makes no difference how long a person was a part of their life before they left this world. I have heard people say, “I don’t know why they are so upset, they didn’t even know them that long” or “they were only together for a little while”. There is no reason to think the amount of time our people are in our lives will determine how long or how deeply we will grieve. Would you think that a parent who loses a child at 3 days old is entitled to less grief than a woman who loses her husband after 75 years of marriage? Nor is the mother entitled to grieve more than the wife. This isn’t a contest.
We affect each other every day with what we say and what we do. We sometimes have an affect on someone we didn’t realize.
After Mike died I had a number of people tell me how much he affected them or that something he did changed their lives. Initially I thought they were just being kind, saying what they thought I wanted to hear. As time passed many of them shared with me why they made that statement and it was always something he had either done for them, taught them or something he said that literally changed their lives.
Our fall harvest the year Mike died was, thankfully, done for my family by a large group of friends and neighbors. The outpouring of support was overwhelming and there were more people and equipment than we needed. People could have gone home and done harvest work of their own that needed done but no one left, they all stayed until all of our crops were done. That day I heard stories about my husband and what he meant to these people. Some stories were shared with everyone and some were just for my ears. Many of the stories I had heard before but still generated much needed laughter. Some that was shared with me were very personal about the affect Mike had on an individual. I had never seen so many strong grown men in tears. They were sharing their grief with me and each other by doing for Mike and I what he could not do that year. They knew how devastated I was but they were also grieving and their grief was no less important than my mine.
I know when we are buried in our grief it’s difficult to think that anyone could possibly feel as horrible as we do right now. So you get a pass for thinking that your grief is worse than anyone else’s could possibly be, just please don’t say it outload. When someone is compelled to share with you how their experience is as bad as yours, do a mental eye roll and give them a hug. Remember you have not walked in their shoes any more than they have walked in yours.
On the flip side, there are those that are hyper aware of what they say to a person who has experienced and significant loss. These people will say something about a friend who’s nephew died in a horrible car accident and talk about how devastated they are then follow it up with “but it’s not as bad as what you went through”. God bless these people for trying so hard to not be one of those people I talked about earlier. I understand they want to spare my feelings and that is appreciated. Everyone’s grief and how they process that grief is valid. No more or no less than of a struggle than mine. We might own the same pair of shoes but they fit each of us differently.