All too often people cannot understand why someone is grieving so deeply or for so long. After Rachel's death, I was home for a year, and I existed in a state of semi-hibernation. My husband, on the other hand, went right back to work. He runs and operates his own business as a tailor, and for the most part was alone a good part of his day. I worked in the demanding cosmetic world prior to my daughter's death, so I knew I would be afforded very little quiet time, if any at all. I also knew it would be difficult to deal with the demands of other people when I was lacking so much in me.
My point is that people began to compare my husband and I, stating things like you both lost a child, your grief should be the same, and so on. Word to the wise, it is not the same, ever. Each and everyone of us experiences grief differently. There are many factors that effect how we grieve a loved one. The relationship is one that quickly comes to mind: were you very close, or was there some estrangement? What did this person represent in your life, was this someone your relied on, trusted, shared all with? Was this person someone who fully and truly accepted you as you are? All these and so much more play a big part in your grieving. The more you love the greater the pain. So to say that two people who both share a similar loss should feel the exact same amount of pain or grief is so untrue and unfair to the griever. Grief is unique to each individual, and only the individual who is grieving knows how they feel.
I have often heard people saying things like, 'I lost my spouse and look at me, I'm doing fine, why are they still moping about'. Or 'I don't understand, didn't they both lose a parent, why is he or she still having a hard time with this, the other seems to have been able to get on with their life.' I have been myself compared to other grieving mothers, and either was given negative or positive feedback. 'She went right back to work, why didn't you?' 'Oh she is not doing as well as you, you have a better grip on the situation, it must have been guilt.' You name it, I've heard it and been compared to it.
But like I said before, no two of us is alike, we have unique personalities, unique likes and interests, we are 'individuals' -'1. a single human being, as distinguished from a group. 3.a distinct, indivisible entity; a single thing, being, instance, or item.' (dictionary.com) We think differently, we feel differently, we experience things differently. I'm reminded of my childhood days when my friends and I would lie down on the grass, staring up into the sky, looking at the clouds drifting by, for the shapes that our imaginations would conjure up. I remember even now, how we would each see different things, and then agree or disagree with the other.
Grief is no different than looking up at those clouds, it is all a matter of perspective. We all see, understand and deal with events and experiences in our lives from the angle we are coming from. That is one of the main reasons why you will so often hear, that grief is a process, that it takes time, that one must do what is best for them. Because no one really knows what you are going through, you are the only one who does. Does it mean others don't understand, of course not. The greatest help for me was talking to other mothers and parents who had lost a child. Listening to what had helped them make it through, what had been very difficult for them, and what had helped them cherish the time they had with their child. In those darkest days and even today, they are a source of comfort, wisdom and hope, letting me know that I too will make it.
The message here, is to allow yourself to mourn, to grieve, and to give yourself the space you need. People often mean well, but unless they have gone through what you are experiencing, they truly have no idea what you are going through. Don't let anyone pressure you into feeling a certain way, or try to conform you to what they believe is the 'normal' grieving period or behavior. And if you are trying to help someone who is grieving, let them know you care, you are willing to listen, and give them space. Most often all we need is someone who is willing to just be there with us and for us. And most importantly, don't compare yourself to others, and don't allow others to compare you with anyone else.
Blessings! and until we meet again.