Comparing Grief

September 19, 2017

When you’ve recently lost a child, everything is hyper-sensitized. Things that normally wouldn’t bother you do; on the other hand, sometimes you are numb to things that should.

I remember after we lost Austin, what others would consider a major stress, was nothing to me. There was no reaction.

Shortly after, my car broke down and we were facing a large repair cost. My husband hesitated in telling me. He paused, awaiting a meltdown I’m sure he expected, but I gave none. Instead I shrugged and said, “we’ll make it work.”

After you’ve lost a piece of your world, everything else pales in comparison.

But then, I recall getting annoyed -even angry sometimes- at how people would go on and on about their “life problems.” I wanted to shake them, scream, or tell them they had no idea.

One day I was out to lunch for a work meeting. A young girl was at the table, who was a basket case because her boyfriend had broken up with her several weeks back.

“I have lost everything,” she cried dramatically, “He was my everything.”

Sitting beside her and keeping my cool took everything in me. I was months out from the deepest, most painful loss, I’ve ever endured. I literally had to force myself to get up and go to work each day. I came home to my son’s empty bedroom, which is how I felt most of the time. Empty.

This girl was suffering a break up with a boy that only she’d met a few months before. She was wearing black and kept commenting how she was “in mourning.”

I wanted to tell her she had no idea what mourning was. That she should count her blessings this was the worst day of her life.  Because it could be so much worse.  Instead, I drank my water and silently fumed, trying to hold back tears.

On more than one occasion someone told me they knew what I was going through, because they lost a pet.  A dog does not compare to a child.  I don’t care how much you love that animal, it just does not equal a mother’s love for her child and the unspeakable loss felt with loss.

And then there have been times when someone would be crying on my shoulder and catch themselves, as if it suddenly dawned on them their difficulty seemed shallow against what I’ve been through.  They’ll gasp and apologize, feeling guilty for even confiding their troubles to me.  Because it is sincere, I tell them it’s ok.  Even if it bothered me in the moment.

I’m further in my grief journey now and am not as sensitive to things people say.  Most of the time, I brush it off.  In the end, people are ignorant to the pain someone in child loss endures.  They can’t compare it but it is unimaginable.  And I wouldn’t want them to.  This is a journey you’d never wish someone else to walk.

At this point, I can’t even say where I stand on the issue.  On one side, I can understand that grief affects us all differently.  And if the loss you are facing is the only great difficulty you’ve had, it might seem as if your world is crumbling.  Pain is pain.

But then again, is it?  I’ve endured all types of pain and loss – from unemployment, to family illness, to ending relationships, to permanent physical injury and more.  Those don’t even compare against each other and especially not to the loss of a child.

With child loss you face every possible pain at once –physical, spiritual, emotional, etc-and carry some for the rest of your life.  Even among this loss community at Still Standing, we haven’t faced the same pains or walked identical paths.  Some of us grieve what we we had – and what could’ve been.  Some what never got to be.  Some multiple losses.  Our journey is as unique as the child we carried – or never got the opportunity to.

In a world where we, as a society, are so quick to complain…to vent publicly online about whatever problems we are facing, this momma just wishes people would pause and think before they type.  Someone, somewhere is facing more pain than any of us can imagine.  And the inconvenience of your wrong order at the drive-thru, your day being ruined, or the loss of your _insert here_ can’t possibly compare.


  • Heather Blair

    In 2008, my world as I knew it changed forever, with the sudden loss of our 14 year old son, Austin. The journey to my blog (and attitude toward life) was bumpy and tearful, beginning at a memorial blog for my son. I later chose to take another path, challenging myself to find the JOY in every day, despite the sadness I still felt. I love and miss him daily but I'm living my life to honor him - and celebrating every moment it brings. My find and share the joy in every day. You can find me at Joyful Challenge

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