grief comparisons

sadness

Photo credit: Wendy Longo photography / Foter / CC BY-ND

It has been three months since my mom died. Sometimes it feels like years ago. Sometimes it feels like yesterday.

I have not been able to write a blog post since that day. My mind has been foggy, scrambled, gray, and unclear. Some days my heart felt heavy, sad, and lifeless. Other days, I have sensed the warmth of her memory in the flowers and sunshine that she loved so dearly.

During the past months, some friends have asked how I am doing and others have kept an awkward distance, unsure of what to say.

Family members have all processed their grief uniquely, sometimes drawing close to each other, sometimes pulling apart because of tensions, anger, or a desire to process pain alone. Some have cried; others held their emotions in check; still others could not find tears even when they tried. Some went right to work arranging details; others were paralyzed by their loss.

In these three months, numerous other friends have also lost loved ones – children, siblings, parents, friends. Sometimes the deaths arrived as expected, peaceful, a long-awaited transition to a better place. Other deaths came suddenly, violently, shaking family foundations of faith and security.

Some of my friends experienced death much like I did… at the bedside, providing care and comfort, counting the minutes as they turned into hours. Other friends had no opportunity to sit nearby at the end or intentionally chose not to go there. Some appear unaffected by their grief; others are clearly rattled, and others experience a bit of both depending on the day.

I have found myself occasionally comparing my particular experience and my emotional response with others. However, I am learning that we cannot compare our different experiences with death any more than we can compare our different experiences with life. 

There is no right or wrong way to do this. There is no standardized approved amount of time, feelings, involvement, or impact that death brings to a person. Each birth, each person, each death is unique.

And so, for me and for you…

Take all the time you need.

Feel whatever it is you feel.

Do what you can and leave the rest.

Give grace, especially to yourself.

Chose safe people and safe places.

Sleep. Cry. Dance. Work. Laugh. Yell. Remember.

Don’t judge.

Don’t compare.

It is grief and so it will be.

∼∗∼

6 thoughts on “grief comparisons

  1. There´s no way for me to put in words all the new feelings that loss has forced me to experience, my dear young friend. I can feel your pain and I guess there´s still a long way to go for both of us. Love you and, yes, I also miss my friend Maureen.

  2. My heart leaned into yours. It’s been almost 6 years since my mother died, and I still long for moments with her. You are right, we can’t compare…we can only lean into each other and feel what we feel together.

  3. I love your words, Ter! The passion behind the pain, the honesty of dealing with grief in your way. Our stories add so much to the grief process–how we embrace it, how we view it, how we maneuver in and around it. You’e given such grace to be unique and open in your experience. I just really wish we could each mourn better with those who mourn. To allow grieving to be an acceptable place for people to be as long as they need to be there. Thanks for this. It truly is beautiful, my friend. Your mom would have been honored by your expression of love.

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