When we are in the throes of deep grief, it’s tough to imagine how anything else, ever, could be worse than what we are feeling.

Pain and grief feel incredibly isolating. They are deceptive as well – even when others reach out to us, it’s oftentimes hard for us to feel the support that they may be offering.

Nothing feels worse than the way we feel in those times.

Because we are humans and we strive to relate to other humans, sometimes, people will try to offer comfort by bringing up their own pain.

I have seen this cause many rifts in friendships.

Example: “I know what you are going through because my divorce was the most difficult thing I have ever gone through.”

Let me make one thing clear. A breakup and a death are NOT the same thing. I myself have been divorced as well, and yes, it hurts. And if there are children involved, it is especially rough. The death of my spouse, however, hurt more than anything else I had ever been through. My experience with divorce paled in comparison.

But for the person trying to relate? Their experience was the worst pain they had felt.

Their breakup might be their only point of reference in the areas of pain and grief.

I would guess that the vast majority of these people are simply trying to offer their support, not compete with us, but it sure doesn’t feel that way sometimes.

For a while after Bret’s death, I was hypervigilant with this line of thinking.

I was immediately put off when someone tried to relate to my grief with something that I deemed to be “lesser.”

Particularly, the divorce comparison.

At one point, an online acquaintance of mine said that he knew exactly what I was dealing with because of his recent divorce. I gently tried to tell him that it wasn’t the same and he insisted it was, as his now ex was “dead to him.” He continually refused to see my point, insisting at times that his pain was even worse than mine! Needless to say, I unfriended him.

While I don’t regret unfriending him, and I do think he got out of line a little, I understand now that his pain was the worst thing he had ever dealt with up until that point.

And again, deep grief causes us to not be able to see outside our own line of sight.

I started to soften my stance when my longtime best friend lost her father.

She is an only child like me, and the existential fear of losing my own father fell onto me with a palpable heaviness.

I am fortunate that I haven’t had to experience this particular loss just yet, but in this life, losing our closest loved ones is inevitable.

Another friend had lost her young son some years back.

My heart ached for her when I heard the news.

My oldest almost left this mortal coil back in 2015 and that was devastating enough. In no way would I ever dream of saying to her that I know exactly what she is going through because I don’t. Thankfully.

I know loss, I know pain. I know what it’s like to be widowed, and I know what it’s like to be widowed by suicide.

There is a lot of grief that I don’t know.

But I do know that pain is pain, grief is grief.

And it is in no way a competition.

When your heart breaks wide open, for whatever reason, it is devastating and overwhelming. And to heal, we all go through the many different stages of grief.

I no longer get irritated when people try to offer support by way of their own comparison. Instead, I try to reciprocate the support right back to them. (I probably don’t always succeed, but I do try.)

We may not share the same grief, but we can still lovingly offer support and understanding to those who are hurting.

Loss is loss and it hurts.

And if you are going through any kind of grief at all, I see you. Even if I don’t understand it myself.

Especially if I don’t understand it myself.

Image via Reddit

Image via speakinggrief.org




Layla Beth Munk is a blogger & author who was thrust into this widowhood journey abruptly and tragically on February 11, 2018. Her husband of 12 years had ended his pain once and for all. She soon made the decision that she would not let his final decision define the rest of her life or their daughter’s life, so with her sense of humor at the helm, she started writing about her newfound station in life. Grief waves still get to her, and probably always will, but with the help of her fellow widows as well as friends and family, she has been able to realize her dream of becoming a published author! Layla is so grateful to Hope For Widows Foundation for providing this level of support to her, and so many others! Layla has two amazing children, one who is grown and one who is almost grown. She lives in eastern Oregon and has a wellness & beauty background. Layla enjoys writing poetry, watching anime, and homeschooling her daughter.

Her blog can be found at laylabethmunk.medium.com and her debut novella, 24 Hours in Vegas, is available on Amazon.