Monday, December 31, 2018

In Grief: Everyone's Loss Is Somehow Different But The Same

[Reviewed and updated July 30, 2021]

A reader writes: Every time I hear someone call my husband's name I am reminded that he is gone. He was so young. My grown children were very angry at God that he took their father at 66, they thought it wasn't fair, he didn't have more time on earth. Still, I read this morning of a widow whose husband was only 46, that is really very very young. We all think this terrible thing is only happening to us until we read of others and their pain, and then we can understand everyone's loss is somehow different but the same.

I am trying to move slowly on with my life as I know that is what he would have wanted me to do. He would be telling me "move on, be happy, I will be waiting for you."

Every time you think maybe you are getting better something triggers a memory and it is like the day you lost them all over again. I am hoping with time that my memories will bring on happy thoughts and not this feeling of despair. I pray for all of us in our grief. Hugs to you from cyberspace.

My response: I am struck by your insightful comments and I thank you for sharing them.

Just this morning I came across a cardboard coaster that I had picked up in a restaurant several months ago and had stuck in a side pocket of my daytimer. I saved it because I was so taken with its message:

Always remember you're unique, just like everyone else.

As you so accurately observe, Everyone's loss is somehow different but the same.

As alike as we all are in our humanness, we each grieve differently, according to our age, gender, personality, culture, value system, past experience with loss, and available support. Grieving differs among members of the same family, as each person's relationship with and attachment to the deceased family member varies. How we react to any death depends on how we've responded to other crises in our lives; on what was lost when this death happened (not only the life of the person who died, but certain aspects of our own life as well: our way of life; who we were in our relationship with that person and who we planned to be; our hopes and dreams for the future); on who died (spouse, parent, child, sibling, grandparent, relative, friend or other; how we lived together and what that person meant to us); on the person's role in our family; on when the death occurred (at what point in the life cycle: ours as well as that of the person who died); and on how (the circumstances surrounding the death, and how the death occurred).

Everyone's loss is somehow different but the same.

Even though our losses are as different and as individual as we are, certain feelings and reactions are universal, normal and predictable, and it is helpful to know what they are so we can better understand them, know what to expect and be better prepared to manage them. By giving words to our grief and sharing our stories of loss in forums such as those you'll find in our online Grief Healing Discussion Groups, we discover that we are not alone. We meet others there with feelings and reactions similar to our own, and realize that we are not crazy or abnormal or weak. We learn that others have walked this path before us, some are farther along than we are, some are coming up behind us and others are walking right along beside us. We find that we have much to learn from one another, and we give each other hope that together we will find our way.

Everyone's loss is somehow different but the same.

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© by Marty Tousley, RN, MS, FT, BC-TMH

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