Comparing Pain: Are You Grieving Wrong?

Pain: It’s not a contest. You can’t make it one, or you’ll lose. You’ll lose yourself, your friends, your reason for being. Nobody likes a martyr.

You also can’t invalidate your pain. It’s real. It’s yours. You have to own it. Not wallow in it, but know that it’s yours and real. You may have to remind yourself.

I have a friend who recently broke up with her boyfriend. She feels like her pain isn’t as great as mine. I think that’s bullshit. Pain is pain. It hurts. It may not hurt her for as long, but I don’t know that for sure. How can I? It’s not my pain. It’s hers.

That’s the thing. Don’t let someone else dictate your grief. It might come in waves that cycle in minutes or days or weeks. It’s not about doing it right, following the rules of grieving, or fitting into someone else’s prescribed formula for what they did, or how it’s supposed to look.

If you see me laugh, it’s not because I’m done grieving. You don’t know that I spent the morning crying because I miss my husband more than I can bear. Going on living, it doesn’t mean you stop grieving.

In the same way that I can love both of my children in different ways, I can grieve for my spouse who’s gone, and move on with the life I want to live. Two passions can exist in one person. They aren’t mutually exclusive and they aren’t conflicting. Both require my energy, but there’s a balance.