Sunday, September 6, 2015

"There is no greater loss"

I just learned this morning that the stepson of a Facebook group friend was killed in a motorcycle accident. Everyone in the group is obviously upset and hurting for this woman and posting notes of sympathy.
One particular note got to me. Not because it was heartfelt or especially poetic.
No, it got to me because it actually made me annoyed, at the very least. And angry, if I am being honest.
This woman wrote "there is no greater loss" referencing the fact that the person lost was a son. To be honest, this woman was personalizing the tragedy because just a few years ago she too lost her son suddenly and unexpectedly to an unknown underlying medical condition.
So on some level, I know and understand where she is coming from.
But my concern goes deeper than that.
I am upset because in that one sentence, meant to commiserate, I felt she demeaned everyone else who is grieving the loss of someone who is not a child [no matter the age].
I have heard it said often that there is no loss greater or worse than losing a child.
I don't know what that means. I have never had a child so I will never know that kind of bond. I imagine that loss to be terrible and tragic and horrible and any other word you can use to describe that kind of immense pain.
But this is not a contest.
And to say that one loss is greater than another is false.
I have known people who have never recovered after losing a parent.
I have known people who have been devastated by the loss of their pet.
Is the loss of a sibling to be considered no big deal?
What about a dear friend?
A cherished uncle?
Loss to death is tragic and sad and horrible in all its permutations.
Losing my husband, my soul mate, my best friend John is something I will never recover from. I will go on but I will also be defined from here on out by what that loss means to me.
To me, there is no greater loss.
As I am sure anyone else feels they are forever changed by the loss they experienced, no matter what "kind" of loss it was.
I am sad for anyone who has lost a loved one to death. I know how much that can hurt.
But I don't pretend to know what that particular loss feels like to that person because I am not them and I did not experience that particular relationship.
Every loss is different and every loss is important and every loss is sad.
My job - our job - is to be there for the person who is grieving.
Not to judge.
Not to compare.
Not to quantify.
Just be.
And to offer love and support.

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