After I lost Charles to suicide, someone I knew called a few months later and shared the sad news she’d just lost her Dad. He had died at 94. Later when I met with her, she told me she hurt just as much as I did and that our situations were exactly the same. I said nothing. I knew she was close to her dad and was really hurting.
I cannot say and never will say that I hurt more than her. There’s no way to compare grief or pain. I just wish she had known that.
Sometimes we want to compare someone else’s experience with our own in order to relate on some level and understand. And in so doing, we say things like, “Yeah, I know when I lost my dog……” and we unknowingly compare which invalidates the other person’s feelings. It’s important in these instances to ask more questions about their loss instead of bringing ourselves in the equation.
I even found that with my struggles with Charles early.
People would tell me about some time they found their child with a beer and compare that with our situation of a son who was addicted which left me feeling totally misunderstood.
When we relate barely relatable experiences or get competitive with our grief or which situation is the worst, we get into trouble and we’re not the friend we should be. We need to be comfortable with some silence, listen more and just acknowledge that the other person’s situation is painful.