Grief is unique
Your grief is as unique as your fingerprint.
No two fingerprints are the same.
Yes, they are both from a ‘finger’, made out of the unique pattern of whorls and lines on the fingertips but that’s as far as it goes in regards to similarities.
They are more different than they are same but the eyes are not able to ‘see’ that.
The only reason fingerprints are compared is to identify the individual.
There is no healthy reason to compare your grief and loss with another person’s.
It does not help you heal. Nor does it help the other person heal their grief.
Recently there was an article floating around the Internet with the title ‘Losing a dog is like losing a child’ (before you cringe at the title, go and read – don’t make a judgement before you read the article with 1.4 mio likes! and read until the end of this article). It is just one example of a sentence in which two completely different losses are compared. As much as it seems logical not to compare completely different losses, we fall into the trap of comparing seemingly similar losses. There is just no point, absolutely NO point in comparisons!
Even by saying ‘the loss of a child is the worst loss ever’ we are basically comparing. We are setting the loss of a child above all other losses.
It’s not helpful, in fact it’s detrimental and it segregates people, who are all in grieving pain. It leads to feeling ‘I shouldn’t feel that bad because really, I’ve only lost … and not my child’ or ‘I should feel the worst because I lost my child’.
Those of us who’ve lost a child are left to believe ‘I’ve experienced the worst loss’ and some even get stuck in the mindset of ‘I’ll never get over this’ or ‘I will never ever feel better again’ for the rest of their lives.
Then, there is also comparing yourself to other loss parents… It’s not helpful.
Similarities and differences
Grieving experiencing are unique and can be experienced in all different ways.
The only similarity that connects grieving parents is the fact that we are a parent and we’ve lost a child. That’s the ‘finger’ part.
Your experience however is just that: YOURS. At different times you might or might not relate to someone so don’t let yourself be fooled to believe statements like ‘that’s what grieving parents experience’ or ‘this is what child loss feels’. If you can relate, fine, but if you can’t, it’s fine too – you’re unique and so is your grieving experience.
You can only know how your loss feels and how you experience your grief. Don’t attempt or pretend you know another person’s experience. Do not even use comparisons to find similarities or differences between a mother’s and a father’s grief of a child – two different people, even while losing the same child, their child, still experience the loss differently.
Comparing is about finding similarities or differences. The similarities might help you understand your situation better. That’s where grieving theories come in helpful in normalising the experience by giving a list of potential similarities. Still, allow your own process to unfold.
BE AND ACCEPT YOUR OWN FINGERPRINT OF GRIEF AND LOSS.
This article was first published December 2, 2015 in Still Standing Magazine.