You’ve got to be kidding me, I thought as I scrolled past the words on my feed.
My heart sunk as I scrolled the post on my feed. An aquaintance had posted a picture of her beloved family pet they had put down that morning. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever been through,” she wrote.
I don’t doubt it was hard or even the hardest thing she’d gone through yet. But her statement caught me short.
At once, I compared our loss to her.
I’d been reeling from the sudden death of my husband at 47 years old. Every dream and plan we’d had together had been buried with him. I’d not only walked through my excruciating grief but watched our seven children push through theirs.
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I’d faced countless decisions on my own. I’d learned how to fix the washer and how to manage a rental house which was way outside my skillset. I’d parented tough seasons with my kids alone, begged God to help me raise them to adults and spent night after lonely night with the ache of missing.
It had taken God’s grace and everything in me to let go of the life we had and take hold of the new life that was.
I knew the death of a family pet was hard, but her words stung as I instinctively compared our hardest loss with hers.
Now before you think I’m a completely awful friend, my spirit immediately checked me (and I felt like a heel). I knew comparison was meaningless and my reaction was wrong.
This wasn’t the first time I’d been tempted to compare loss.
After my husband’s death, I heard many well-meaning offers of understanding. “I know what you’re feeling. My husband was deployed for 18 months.” Or “I went through this after my great-aunt died.”
Other losses seemed exponentially harder than ours, like my friend whose young husband and only two children were killed in a single accident. My grief felt reasonable when compared to her tragedy.
But comparing grief is meaningless.
Is it harder to lose a child? Or a parent as a child? Is it harder on a family for the mom or the dad to die? Or saying goodbye slowly after diagnosis or suddenly without notice? Is it harder for a widow with young children or a widow after her nest has emptied?
It’s all hard and it all hurts.
Which is why comparing grief is futile.
Even in a roomful of widows, the losses are different. Each one of us has different marriages, different experiences and different issues that make up unique kinds of loss.
“Weep with those who weep,” we’re instructed in Romans 12:15.
Nothing is said about first determining the kind of hurt or size of the hurt. We’re not told to compare our grief and see whose is worse. Or weigh whose grief is big enough to count or to warrant our empathy.
We’re simply told to weep with one another. To acknowledge each other’s pain and loss and to walk with each other through it.
No pain is too big for God nor too small.
That day when I read my friend’s words, God immediately checked me. And so, righting my heart, I prayed for her and replied back with a sincere condolence.
She was hurting. And her real hurt didn’t in any way diminish my own. God’s grace is deep enough for us both.
This post first appeared at A Widow's Might.