Comparing Losses

Why Comparing Losses Hinders Healing

1024 683 Roxane Goss
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Do you ever wonder why people always seem to be comparing losses? Your loss to theirs. Maybe you’re comparing your own losses and wonder why you’re not experiencing the same thing as you grieve. Does it seem to help to compare? It’s not my experience.  Examine maybe, but not compare as if the grief should be the same.

The other day I had a conversation with a very dear friend about how difficult it is being a widow. How difficult the loss of a spouse or long-term partner is. She isn’t a widow herself, but she spends a great deal of time with one of her aunts that is and she herself has suffered many losses.

As our conversation went on we ended up talking about all the different types of loss there are. That each of these losses causes grief and how grief is felt at 100% by each person experiencing the loss. It doesn’t matter what the loss is. Whether it’s by death or divorce. If it’s a pet or a person. Job loss or a child leaving home.

So often I see people comparing losses. I often wonder how that is helpful to anyone. It hinders healing so I question why does one do that? It really got me thinking about the losses I have suffered. Of which there has been several.

Many of the losses are close family members. I have experienced the death of both sets of grandparents, all my aunts and uncles and two cousins on my dad’s side of the family, my dad and my husband.

Not only have I experienced loss by death, but I have experienced many other types of loss. Pet loss, my identity, divorce, loss of job, friendships, social connection, loss of trust. The list goes on.

Each loss is different

No matter the loss, each one was different. Consequently, each path to healing was different.

Many times when people compare losses, it’s the death of a person that’s of one type of relationship vs another, death vs divorce or even death of a loved one vs a beloved pet.

I am here to tell you, there is no comparison and it doesn’t serve anyone to compare. In fact, it can hurt both people. Who are we to say that another’s loss is less than or even more than our own? Even comparing our own is fruitless and harmful. It certainly doesn’t lead to healing.

Looking at my two hardest losses

I lost my dad in 1996 and then I lost my husband in 2009. There is absolutely no comparison. They both brought my world crashing down around me. Some of what I experienced was the same, yet so different.

My dad’s death was filled with trauma, as was my husbands, but it was different. The entire circumstances surrounding his death was totally different than that of my husband. How could they be the same?

Both losses affected me to the core of my being. Deep into my soul. They both took away someone I adored and loved. They both changed me in profound, yet different ways. I lost that particular physical type of relationship I had with the person. One of a daughter and that of a wife.

Having said that, one of the oddest things is, I still feel like a daughter to my dad (of course not in the physical sense), but I no longer feel like a wife to my husband.

It’s as though a part of my dad still lives through me as his blood runs through my veins. I will always be my daddy’s little girl.

There isn’t one ounce of me that feels like a wife to my husband. Maybe it’s all the ‘till death do us part’ thing. It could be that I have let go and surrendered to what is no longer. Yes, he is still a part of me. He will always have a place in my heart. I will always love him. Holding on to him as my husband doesn’t allow me to integrate the loss into my life and move forward. It can also be detrimental to finding love again.

There is just no comparison between losses

Ultimately, there is no comparison between the loss of my father and that of my husband. They both brought me to my knees and affected me deeply, but differently. They changed who I am but in a different way. All the feelings I had were the same, yet different. One not harder than the other, yet not the same. Each type of death causes a totally different reaction, a different type of pain. It’s truly unique.

It’s ok that your grief is different. It may be less intense, not as overwhelming. There may be no anger, you may cry more. One loss may make you question everything about life and who you are, where you belong and even if you truly want to live. Another may not. That’s totally fine.

It’s ok to look at all that may have helped or hindered you on a different grief journey, but expecting it to be the same isn’t helpful.

With this in mind, let each loss, each grief journey stand on its own, without comparison. Even that of someone else. It deserves all of your attention. All of your love.  You will learn and grow so much on each unique journey.

What I’ve learned from loss

I’ve learned how to love deeper, be more empathetic and compassionate and also how to be me. My most authentic self. I am a warrior – a survivor even in the toughest of times. Life is impermanent, important and so worth living it to the fullest. Connection and relationships should be valued over everything!

I’ve learned the value of friendships and how deeply I can still love! I’ve learned how to live in the present. I will never fully lose anyone to death. They will always be in my memories and their energy will be with me forever.

Each loss teaches us something. Don’t miss out. Life is tragically beautiful!

What Are Your Next Steps?


I can’t wait to hear your thoughts. How have you compared your losses and grief journeys? How do you think it hindered your healing? Please comment below


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Roxane Goss

All stories by: Roxane Goss

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