We're hurting. The last thing we need is to be evaluated. Unkind and unhelpful words end up only adding to our burdens.
From the Grieving Heart:
Why do people feel like they have to compare? It seems like everyone wants to compare their losses to mine.
"My mom passed away ten years ago, so I know how you feel."
"I lost a friend in high school, and it was much worse than this."
"You think you're hurting? I've lost five people in the last two years."
"You think this is bad? It only gets worse."
Why do people say such things? All people are not the same. Every relationship is different. They didn't lose you. They can't see and know my heart or my pain. What do they know?
We all need to express our grief. I get that. But why do we have to play the comparison game while we grieve?
Words are powerful.
As human beings, we tend to compare. We wonder how we're doing, or how we're supposed to be doing, so we look around and evaluate. When we start to compare emotional pain, however, we're in dangerous territory.
Grieving hearts don't need to be evaluated, but rather they should be seen and heard. We need connection, not comparison. When others make our pain about them and their grief, we naturally feel invisible or even belittled.
It would be nice if we could meet each other where we are and express kindness. Honestly, listening and expressing compassion is often easier than living a self-focused, self-centered life. Our hearts long for mutual relationships. Having someone thrust themselves upon us is a boundary violation that does not sit well with our souls.
Words matter. Words can hurt. And yet, we can’t afford to let unfeeling statements of comparison rule our minds and hearts. If we're willing, we can use unhelpful statements like those above as fuel for our grief fire. We can find ways to process our emotions about these encounters in ways that allow us to empty a little bit of our grief reservoir.
Comparison never benefits anyone. It can steal our identity and keep joy far from us.
I’ll find ways to express my grief without comparing my loss to that of others. Comparison does not help me grieve well.
Adapted from Comfort for Grieving Hearts: Hope and Encouragement in Times of Loss. To watch a brief video about the book, click here.