My husband is gone.
Not gone like he stepped out to pick up some milk at the grocery store.
Not gone like working the night shift.
Not gone like on a fishing trip with his buddies.
Not even gone like staying elsewhere for a while as we try to figure out whether our relationship is still worth fighting for.
Like six feet under gone.
Like I’m never going to see him again in this lifetime gone.
Like he’s involuntarily missing out on his son’s life and our future together gone.
Look, I realize grief is not a competition and that I don’t get to claim ownership for all the sadness in the world.
I will not pretend to know what it’s like to have a marriage you’ve poured your entire soul into for years suddenly come crashing down because he decided to be unfaithful to you. Or because he decided he outgrew you. Or because his drug addiction or alcoholism prevented him from being the husband you know deep down he could have been. I can’t even imagine what that’s like. There are so many situations that we are just not capable of understanding or truly empathizing with unless we’ve actually lived them.
Who am I to minimize that kind of pain? Who am I to say it hurts any more or less than the kind of pain I’ve endured?
Maybe your divorce has been the single most difficult experience of your life. And maybe, like me, you were forced to learn a new way to live, without him as a daily participant in your everyday routine. There’s a good chance you are struggling to rediscover who you are without him, like I had to.
Please don’t compare your divorce or long term break-up to my husband’s passing.
Please don’t try to tell me that divorce is just a death without a funeral.
Please don’t tell me that at least my husband and I “ended on good terms” and that he didn’t choose to leave me.
I would have gladly sacrificed any one of my limbs (hell, probably all of them) and my marriage if it meant Ralf could have remained alive and healthy so as to be a part of Mason’s life.
Not all circumstances surrounding every divorce are alike, and the same is true for death. Maybe you had an amicable split, or maybe you continue to be at each other’s throats. My husband suffered a tragic and untimely death, but there are so many widows who are left behind after their husbands commit suicide. Moreover, we all experience and express our grief in very individual ways.
So don’t tell me that you know how I feel because you went through a divorce. Instead, tell me that although you’ve been through some really painful life altering crap, you still can’t imagine what I’m feeling.
I’ll agree with you and return the sentiment.
And then we can learn from each other and have an honest and heartfelt conversation, one strong woman to another.
Maeghan, thank you for sharing this. Just to let you know that your words have touched someone across the oceans. I am a Zimbabwean, widowed in 2016. He also had a brain tumor that he fought valiantly for 2 years. He had two surgeries, chemo and radiation treatment. For the second surgery I had to bring him to the US (20 grueling hours in a tin can and not knowing whether this latest treatment would work). Six months or so after I buried my husband, a recently divorced friend told me “welcome to my world” – I had been expressing how hard it is to be on my own at gatherings – in church, at school functions etc. Like you, I thought, “I would give anything to have him here, healthy and strong, anything even a divorce!” But I was actually shocked into silence.
You are so right apples and oranges.
Be blessed Maeghan.
Meaghan, so very, very true and so unfair for anyone to compare divorce with death. I totally agree with your post. You will never know something until you experience it. To compare death to anything else but death is a complete lack of empathy and wrong.
Keep pouring your heart out. I am certain that it serves a beautiful purpose…Healing, not only for you, but understanding for for us that have not walked a day in your shoes. Thank you for sharing.
Maeghan, this is so well said….great job. I experienced this type of comparison so often.
I wrote about this same subject in September on my blog (https://tenthousanddays.blog/).
It was published by The Mighty… https://themighty.com/2017/10/journey-loss-grief-years/
People…they can be so incredibly clueless. My heart goes out to you. Your writing is fantastic.
First, Meaghan, I send you heartfelt condolences on losing your husband. Reading about the tragic circumstances and the beauty that he left, I double those thoughts to you. Your post is absolutely right on and I can say that even more authentically because I’ve been divorced – and widowed. Yes, it is apples and oranges. While the sadness of losing love and dreams is real, it doesn’t come close to knowing the person who loved you and you them, literally more than life, will NEVER be seen on this earth again. That is all kinds of broken that no matter how painful a divorce, is immeasurable in grief of death. All I can say is to wish you and your precious son all the love your husband would have showered on you both all your lives ahead. Keep writing, Maeghan….