Competing at Grief

I was talking with a friend recently about the death of his mother who died in her 60’s. He is grieving for her but said he realizes that other people have it worse. I said “well, pain is pain and grief is not a competition. You’re allowed to grieve without having to compare yourself to others.”

There is always that feeling of “wow, that’s worse than my loss.” I don’t often think “well, my grief is worse” but I do tend to marvel at losses that seem worse. I think the important thing to remember is that people mourn for family members, for their livelihoods, for the destruction of their homes.

I guess there are some degrees of things being worse. I met a widow who was told by her co-worker that she now understood the widow’s grief because her dog died the previous evening. The widow didn’t feel that they were quite the same thing. The man who treats my house for bugs has said more than once that having to put his dog down after 15 years was like losing a child. So, a 15 year old dog has led a long life. The bug guy obviously has no idea what losing a child would be like. It would be better to say, “boy I miss my dog.”

If we go down the path of ranking losses, we’d have to assign points. So many for a parent, maybe more for a spouse, and double that for a child. Oh, and don’t forget our siblings and in-laws, and friends.

I think it’s better just to say, “grief is not a competition.”chess-256510_640