Suggestion #2 – Recognize Your Grief is Unique
Your grief is unique because no one else had the same relationship you had with your spouse. Your experience will also be influenced by the circumstances surrounding the death, other losses you have experienced, your emotional support system and your cultural and religious background.
As a result, you will grieve in your own special way. Don’t try to compare your experience with that of others or to adopt assumptions about just how long your grief should last. Consider taking a “one-day-at-a-time” approach that allows you to grieve at your own pace. [source]
This is such a great suggestion, and one I have found so relevant.
Your grief is your grief. It does not belong to anyone else, it is not the same as anyone else, and it cannot be fully understood by anyone else. Your grief is individual to you and cannot be compared.
So many times over the past few years, I’ve seen comparison damage grieving people. I’ve witnessed families torn apart because they compared their relationships and thought one grief was more important than the others. I’ve seen individuals put unnecessary pressure on themselves because they compared their situation another and thought they should act a certain way. Grief is hard enough, and all of this extra hurt makes it apparent that comparison has no place in the healing process.
While it is certainly helpful to find camaraderie, understanding, and support among others who are grieving, and there is plenty to be learned from those who have experienced what you are going through, it is important to realize that your journey won’t be exactly the same. Each person responds with their own emotions, their own actions, and their own personal preferences. You might be a crier where someone else is a stoic, you might chose to date early on while another could never imagine it, or you might not believe in an afterlife where someone else looks to faith. There are so many things that make your grief yours. Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparing your loss and situation to someone else’s only creates should’s — the expectations that you must act, think, or feel a certain way to be a ‘proper widow’. I dealt with the shoulds for a long time. In fact, I still fight them. And trust me, they make everything harder. You don’t have to try to be a certain way. However you decide to grieve is okay. Whatever choices you make along the way, whatever emotions you feel, however you act…it is okay. Because it is your grief.
And just like you experience your own individualized grief, so do the other people who are grieving your loved one. Try to be gentle and accepting, not only with yourself but with them as well. Remember, each person had their own type of relationship with your spouse and that relationship was special to them. One grief is not more important or worse than the other, because they are completely different. You couldn’t justly compare an avocado to a grape, so why compare the grief of a mother to the grief of a widow? Or a brother to a friend? They are unique, they are different, and one is not more or less than the other. Because honestly, they all royally suck. You are all feeling the loss of the same beautiful person, so try to focus on that person instead. Choosing to respect our differences and never compare our grief is one of the best things our family has done since losing The Hubs. Because we don’t compare, we are able to support each other and listen to each other and help each other heal. It might not always be easy, because we are human. But we make a conscious effort, and it has made us all even closer now than we were before.
Have you ever heard the quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy?” It’s true. And it’s also a barrier to healing. Try to let it all go and remember, your grief is unique. <3