Why do some people feel the need to make everything a competition? I think we all know people like this. You have an open conversation about an illness or loss you’re experiencing and they feel the need to compare your issues with something they experienced. I’m not talking about statements like: ” I lost my wife, too, so I understand what you are going through.” I appreciate people who can relate their experience and understanding of a situation and offer true insight. I’m talking about the people who must make their loss or caregiving experience more trying and more painful than yours. A person I know asked about my wife during her battle with cancer. I talked about the process we were going through at that time. He then began to tell me how much worse it was when his father died from cancer and how much harder it was for his family. I don’t know if it was intentional, or if it was his way of trying to relate. I suppose this is the only way some of us can discuss these things. Maybe we feel showing compassion and care to be a sign of weakness. I consider it a sign of strength.
All loss, all times of trial and pain are equally important. What you are experiencing is most important to you. What your friend is experiencing is most important to them. Everyone’s pain and everyone’s love is unique to that person. One isn’t better or worse than the other. They are just different. An old friend made the statement: “I just lost my mother, but that is nothing compared to you losing Lynn.” She was so right and so wrong. There is no comparison of our losses. They are equally important to each of us and shouldn’t be compared. I can relate to her loss because my mother is gone, but I can’t really understand her particular pain. I’m sure her relationship with her mother was different than the one I had with mine.
Through all of this I have found a new way of experiencing and giving compassion. I am able to express genuine care for those in pain, something much deeper than I had known before. I don’t judge situations, but choose to listen and observe. It’s as if the depth of my loss, the pain of my broken heart has allowed me to see more clearly now. It has opened my heart to be filled with a different kind of love. A love that is more encompassing for all things in this world. I do believe that the size of the love is the size of the loss.