photo credit; urbanwallart
Pain that comes from grief is not comparable in any way.
I recently stumbled onto a blog written by a “widow” – she was proud to be affiliated with a very well known “Widow’s Club” as a grief leader, as well – stating her works of achievements in her professional life as a counselor – noting her unshakable faith in God. She went onto to say or rather document her own losses in life – including the loss of her husband which apparently inspired her to create the blog page in the first place. She shared her back story and how her life has unfolded in the past 10 years with wonderful new blessings. Inspiring – I thought so too until I read the next few paragraphs. Noted where the accolades and accomplishments that any one of us would be proud to record [my journey has been less stellar – indeed it is riddled with many mistakes] – of a job well done in the grieving process of life. Encouraging others to follow her example so that they too would not remain stuck in their grief – the criteria would have been far too daunting for me especially in the early days of my own loss.
I have only known grief as a very unique yet universal territory that we all enter into without our permission. Comparison can be defeating to the one who is struggling to navigate through their pain – their grief. I cannot speak to anyone’s pain – I can only speak to my own. I found it most disheartening that “widow-to-widow” there was criticism and judgment – comparison. Especially to the one who is seemingly stalled in her process and “won’t” move on. Society already perpetuates the myth that grief has a time table – grief is merely a means to an end to get over “it” – it being death. To find it nestled within the community of widows is more then discouraging. We need to respect one another and the individual process of grief. I support the celebration of new life and new beginnings especially following the death of someone we love – it is important it is crucial to our overall mental health that we arrive at a place of peace, but each in their own time and according to their own process. The admonishment to basically “suck it up” and the comments that followed from other widows was appalling. Knowledge and Experience without Compassion are empty tools.
To the one who is grieving a recent loss, and even to those who are still working through the death of a loved one – yes, years later. Trust your own heart and follow your own path, you are the only one that knows your pain – your sorrow and when you can, and you will – when you are ready you will find the resources and the tools to move forward into your new life – your new future.
There is no humungous grief scale that determines who hurts more – or less. The absurdity in that approach would indicate that my pain has far more meaning because I was married for 30 years in comparison to your five or ten years – Of course not – but when we (especially widows) begin to impose guidelines or measure our pain, our success one to the other – it causes me pause, especially if they regard themselves as “healed” and qualified to share the proper “how-to’s” in an effort to instruct someone – how to move on with their lives. I can say with certainty that I would have been shattered in my early days of my grieving had I traveled across her path. Ironically I did in fact sign on to attend a conference hosted by that Widow’s Club but circumstances prevented my participation. I do however continue to follow it’s founder, I love her testimony, her candor, her humor and her willingness to share of her heartache – disappointments and ultimately her arrival at a new life. I am inspired by her journey.
Pain cannot be calculated – there is no measurement. January will mark 3 years since the death of my husband. There are enough people in my own life who by the way have not suffered the loss of a spouse – in their lives (thankfully), that continually object to the speed in which I have moved through my grief – so perhaps I am a little hypersensitive to the one widow’s comment who believed that 3 years was much too long of a time frame to be sad and not over it yet.
I am grieving the loss of 30 years of a shared identity – he’ll not see his Grandchildren making their way into the world. There are Christmases and birthdays that will never be celebrated – walks on the beach, vacations to favorite spots that have been visited for the last 25 years – together. No one to hold my hand, and tell me in the way that only he could – how beautiful I was – in a pair of jeans, a t-shit and flip-flops. No one to wipe away my tears – no one to comfort me when I am sad – alone or disappointment has found it’s way into my heart. No one to walk through a grocery store and eat a box of cookies with, while you shop – no one to spend your lazy Sunday afternoon with. My husband will not be seated next to me to witness a promise made to a Father – a commitment fulfilled by his Son, when he receives his degree. That is a personal pain – one that cannot be qualified or measured.
We need to be careful to remain sensitive and supportive of one another. My own journey has found hope and a desire to live a full life despite the loss of my beloved husband but I’ll never get over his loss, I will never be better – I pray for healthy and whole and those early days of pain, sorrow and despair will always be just below the surface that might very well erupt in the form of sadness maybe even tears during those missed graduations, weddings and births of a new generation of his legacy. Gratitude makes it possible for us to move forward [and I differentiate between moving on; leaving my life and my memories behind and moving forward; taking my memories and all of my shared life’s experiences with David, with me into a new future] and it should be the same gratitude that dwells within our hearts that allows us to extend graciousness and compassion to others who are hurting and struggling in their journey.
The God I know and serve is a kind and loving God – I too have relied on Him in my dark days and in His faithfulness He has carried me to higher ground. But there have also been dark moments, my seasons in the valley, where I have learned my most valuable lessons. The pain of grief should never be associated with a lack of faith. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
unless you have real compassion you cannot recognize love – Thurman