I have a friend I’ve known for years who recently lost her husband. They married late in life, and he was most definitely the love of her life. She’s been posting mini love letters to him everyday accompanied by a photo and a memory about that photo.
I feel her love and grief as almost a physical thing. It feels beautiful and sacred, which is likely why I feel so guilty when it triggers my sadness about how much I am missing my girlfriend.
This feeling is called comparative grief. Her grief is so much worse and is completely valid whereas mine is ridiculous in comparison and is, therefore, not valid.
My friend would be the first to tell me to stop that nonsense and that my feelings are just as valid. Intellectually I know this to be true. However, my person is only a plane ride away (or a very long road trip). The distance can be crossed. Perhaps not easily or cheaply but it’s possible for me where it’s not for her. Not in this lifetime at least.
I am trying not to feel the guilt. I’m trying to remember that my feelings are not to be compared, not even to rationalize about gaining perspective. That my sadness and yearning to be with my person is temporary and that I’ll get to see her soon doesn’t invalidate the intensity of these feelings.
It may be unfair, but it feels like this concept of comparative grief is a social construct perpetuated by the capitalistic patriarchy. There’s always someone worse off than you so buck up and get back to work. I wonder. I see a rabbit hole of research into comparative grief in my near future.
Nothing like getting angry at the patriarchy to make a girl feel less sad.
Be well my friends.
3 thoughts on “Comparative Grief”
Your feelings are valid. It’s like if you get two people together in a room, one didn’t sleep last night and the other just worked a double. They are both tired. Society wants us to say “only the person who worked hard is allowed to be tired!” When in reality they are both allowed to be tired. Both of their experiences are valid.
Your friend is allowed to miss her husband AND your allowed to miss your girlfriend.
This isn’t a competition.
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Uh, WOW! “but it feels like this concept of comparative grief is a social construct perpetuated by the capitalistic patriarchy.” I am a huge comparative grief feeler (thinker?), and it has never occured to me this might be a patriarchal construct….and now I am going to have to think about that for awhile….
Thanks for the thought therapy… Be well💜
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I’d be interested in knowing what you think.