There is a LOT of comparison in the world of child loss and bereavement. I see so many comments and messages from grieving people that contain something like “I know my loss isn’t like yours but…” and it saddens me. No matter how your child died, no matter when your child died, no matter how old they were or how many memories you got to make with them, your child died. If I person drowned in 60 feet of water, and you drowned in 20 feet of water… both of us still drowned.
There are different ways, different times, different stories, methods, and reasons. Ultimately, death was the result. There will always be different details to everyone’s story of loss. No two will ever be the same. What we have to focus on is that those different details do not change the severity of the burden of grief. Those details do not make your loss any easier. They don’t make it hurt less, they do not change that the worst thing in the world happened to you.
If you feel like your loss is not as great, like your suffering has not been as immense, know that the truth is, it has. Because it’s YOUR loss, and YOUR suffering you are experiencing. The way your story unfolded does not make your loss less than. It just makes your story different than.
As human beings we compare. We minimize our own ordeals because they don’t match someone else’s. It’s just what we do. We have to acknowledge that death and grieving are individual, they are in no way linear. There is no straight line to death, there is no straight line through grief. There are tiny bumps and curves, huge waves and mountains, all pieces of trial and detail that affect the course and trajectory of grieving. No two peoples experiences along that journey will be the same, but that doesn’t stop us from finding solace in the small places where our paths may have crossed or looked similar to one another.
It’s not about comparison or magnitude. It’s about the parts of our stories that allow others to echo in understanding, to feel seen in their own pain. In grieving and loss, we cannot live in the mindset that “someone else has it worse”, because everyone’s got a different worst.