Wednesday, March 6, 2013

There's No Comparison ......


...... of widowed people.

It's not that we aren't alike in many ways.
We are.
We have each experienced a loss deeper than anything we could've ever imagined.
And that creates quite a bond most of the time.

Yet each of us is as different and unique as apples are to oranges.
Sure, they're both fruits (I'm going to refrain from calling some of us fruits ...... though it's requiring a whole lot of self control!), but the comparisons stop there.

Yes, some people who are not widowed try to compare us to others quite often.  There are way too many of us who've been told that someone "understands" because he/she experienced the death of a pet.
Yes, that's really happened (it happened to 2 of my daughters).
Sad ...... and disgusting ...... but true.

Some try to compare being widowed with being divorced.
(I can feel your blood pressure rising as you read this.
You should feel mine as I'm writing it!)
If you haven't had someone mention how much better off you are, because you're not divorced ...... just wait.
Your turn is coming.

Some of you have felt the sting of having the way you're grieving compared to another widowed person.
Some have been slapped in the face with, "You're doing it wrong."
Hopefully, you knew better than to believe something, and someone, so vile.  But if you didn't ...... you do now.

We cannot be compared.
Our grief is as unique to us as are our fingerprints.
It is what it is.
It will be what it will be.
And it will last for as long as it lasts.

Which means that not only should others stop comparing us ......
but so should we.

What?  What am I talking about?  We who are widowed compare ourselves ...... to each other?!
Yes, indeed.
At least in the beginning.
And then hopefully, just as we learn to ignore the ignorant, we learn to ignore the ignorance that tries to rear its ugly head inside of us.

You know what I mean.
"I wish my husband hadn't died so suddenly and unexpectedly.  If he'd had cancer, like ______'s husband, we would've had time to prepare for this."
"I wish my husband didn't have to get so sick and linger for all those months.  If he could've just dropped dead from a heart attack, like _____'s husband, life would've been easier.  And he wouldn't have had to suffer."
"I wish my kids were older, like ____'s.  I want to know that they'll remember her/him.  And only-parenting is so very hard."
"I wish my kids were younger, like ____'s.  They'll soon be out on their own, living their own life with their future wide open.  And then I'll be alone.  All too soon.  And ...... only-parenting is so very hard."

I could go on with this, but I bet most of you could, too.

We're taught, at a very young age, to compare ourselves.  And we almost always find ourselves lacking.
As we grow up, and older, we hopefully learn what an amazing waste of time that is.  And so we stop.
But those of us on this site, at some point on our path to maturity, have found ourselves in a totally different reality.  We are usually lost in this reality for quite some time.
And so comparisons naturally creep back in.

But we, as the widowed, need to put a stop to that.
We can't compare our loss to someone else's.
We can't measure our grief on someone else's scale.
We can only carry our own grief.  Which is already too heavy some days, so how can we expect to carry someone else's?

There are no comparisons.
Long illness.
Sudden death.
Young children.
Grown children.
No children.
Six children.
A will.
No will.
Natural death.
Married 35 years.
Together 3 years.

The differences matter not.
We here are all in this together.
Because this much I know:
Grief is grief.

And it sucks.


  1. very true for some many reasons for so many different comparisons... thx for posting

  2. Janine, so true.
    I always say it is just one kind of hell versus another. It's like saying want to go up in flames or have someone pierce you with a thousand nails. Who wants any of it?

    Grief is grief. Every grief has its own personal hell and dare I say gifts. Maybe we just have to meet other widows with the only really gift we can give the answer "me too." and an offer of support and caring.
    That's what you do every time you write.
    Thanks so much.

  3. thank you for posting
    sometimes I feel very alone, but not after reading this

  4. Thank you, you hit the nail on the head. I feel better knowing that there are others who really understand.

  5. Janine, so interesting that I do find myself comparing my plight to that of another widow. Usually my main objective is to keep telling myself others have it worse than I do. But like you said, it seldom works and "grief is grief" and so toally sucks.

    I do lose my patience when my grief progress is compared with that of others. Those folks only succeed in making me feel emotionally weak. I get tired of listening.

    So a great big thanks.......

  6. We just had this discussion on one of the WV forums. I am often grateful that my kids are grown & on their own, but I met a lovely young woman at CWE last year who was so grateful that her kids were still little and she was busy with them. It helped fill the void. We are where we are. We just have to learn to accept what we've been handed as gracefully as we can. Not easy, but necessary!

  7. You ended that with the truest statement ever IT SUCKS!! A year ago I would have never imagined I'd be in the position I find myself in right now. I find myself fighting to have others view me as a widow. So often people have a stereotype in their head of what a widow should be and I don't fit that image. I don't have dependent children, I have a full time job, I wasn't married to him decades, I wasn't his first wife, he wasn't my first husband, I smile to much... on and on. I want to start handing out cards with the definition of widow on it. I lost my husband, I was his third wife, he was my second husband and I smile because I knew him!