I met with a client last week, suffering from a crushing loss, and as I sat while she wept, my heart ached for her. There is nothing I can do to change what has happened in her life. I can only be there to help her as she travels what can be a very rocky road.
At one point she mentioned that people seem to think she should be ‘better’ by now. They are comparing her to others and thinking she should be further along in this grieving process.
If there is one thing about grief that we can say with assurance, it is that there is no room for comparisons. We cannot compare our grief with theirs, or their grieving with another person’s. Grief is so all-encompassing, and it differs vastly based on the person’s past experience, their source of support, their self-confidence, and on so many other things that it is ludicrous to think that any two people would grief identically.
When we compare ourselves with another, we almost always come up short. We see all our weaknesses, and tend to only see the polished public view of others. On the other hand, if by chance we compare with someone else and we appear to be “better” than they are, we risk losing our tenderness and compassion for others. I have never known comparisons between myself and other people to be helpful.
I love the phrase I once read: “Know yourself, like yourself, be yourself.” It helps me realize that I was created to be me – Roslyn. Not Ruth, not RaeLynne, not Sue or Becky, but Roslyn. My Creator isn’t comparing me to those other people. I’m not expected to be as good as, or as talented as, or as happy as or as anything as one of them. I’m only expected to be the best Roslyn I can be.
And when I’m grieving, I can take my time. The process is mine, and I don’t have to keep up with – or wait for – anyone. And if I meet others traveling the same path, I will give them the same courtesy, and travel with them – with no comparisons.
May you be tender with yourself today. Yes, if you’re ready, move ahead and take the steps you need to take to continue to heal. But don’t allow yourself to compare – because as the popular quote goes, “it was never between you and them anyway.”*
*Attributed to Mother Teresa