(3) She thought she had no right to grieve

She asked me about my children and my relationship. I told her about the loss of my two buddies. My daughter, when she was 21 years and my wife, my Soul Mate, after 35 years of marriage. She was shocked and she was deeply impressed. She wanted to understand how I dealt with a situation like that.

The encounter

She thought she had no right to grieve. Dealing with grief exists in many forms. As soon as we are amongst people, we try to hide our grief. However, when a sensitive chord is hit, grief can come up unexpectedly. This blog is about an encounter during one of the business trips I made.

The restaurant I had chosen for dinner was full. There was a long waiting queue. That’s what you get when you don’t make a reservation. Anyway, there was one seat free at the bar and the waitress suggested to take that one. I was alone and the choice was easily made.

The free seat was sitting between a man and a woman. The man next to me was in a deep business conversation with his partner and nobody seemed to exist around them. The woman next to me turned out to be alone and was in deep thought.

The conversation

Eventually we started to talk. She was traveling on business and missed her children. One moment she told me that as a result of a car accident she had lost the love of her life. The relationship lasted about eighteen months. “Only eighteen months,” she said. You could clearly see she still devastated.

She asked me about my children and my relationship. I told her about the loss of my two buddies. My daughter, when she was 21 years and my wife, my Soul Mate, after 35 years of marriage. She was shocked and she was deeply impressed. She wanted to understand how I dealt with a situation like that. What had happened to me was so much worse than in her case, she told me. She thought at that moment she had no right to grief because the sadness of another was many times worse than hers.

She thought she had no right to grief.  She considered the grief of somebody else many times worse than hers.

She lost me for a moment. How can you even think like this? How can you think that someone’s loss is worse than that of somebody else? Finally, I found the words. One has not more or less grief than somebody else. It feels how it feels. It doesn’t matter how long it was ago and it doesn’t matter how long the duration of the relation was between them. Her sorrow was just as real and just as profound as mine. How can you say that someone’s loss is worse than that of somebody else? Yes, as an outsider perhaps, but not those who have experienced grief. For them, there’s no difference! For them, grief is extremely concrete and sometimes they don’t even know how to cope with the raw pain of grief.

Dealing with grief

Her grief was maybe different, but just as deep as mine. After the conversation she felt a bit relieved, a bit happier and might be able to deal with her loss a bit better. Her sorrow did not change … but, more importantly it helped her to put things in a different perspective … by talking about it … and most importantly to share it with somebody else.

Text changed: 14-08-2019

Author: Hans Fransen

Founder of the Mourn & Grief Foundation

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