Death vs Divorce: The Battle of the Giants

The best way I can describe grief competition is comparing it to road rage.

You know when typically polite and nice people get behind the wheel and become really angry while on the road?

That’s what happens to typically kind and caring people when they feel like someone else is trying to pass them with their grief car.

When someone else dares to say that their pain was as bad as theirs, or even worse.

They get angry and compete with their grief, trying to convince everyone around them that their grief cannot be compared to anyone else’s.

In the years I have been doing this work the divorce verses death loss argument has been the strongest one.

People who have been divorced say that, it would have been better if their spouse died instead of the misery they are experiencing. (I have been told this hundreds of times.)

And people who have experienced death, say at least your kids can see their mother or father. Mine will never be able to do that.

If you put these two people in two different cars on the road, you will see grief rage.

They will not be the kind and caring people you would normally meet, they would be fighting to prove to the other that their pain was bigger.

Their loss more painful.

And they would get angry, very angry if you tried to take that away from them.

They will drive you off the road.

Now that’s not very healing is it? Not very kind either. Kind of insane if you ask me.

So I want to settle this once and for all.

Both losses are extremely painful.

Both losses have a lot of grief.

Both losses rip out your identity.

Both losses question your sanity.

But the loss through death is more acceptable by the society than the loss through divorce.

There is more shame around divorce.

More silence.

More hiding.

More betrayal.

More confusion.

More blame.

I have not experienced a divorce, but have worked with many people who have.

The pain I have witnessed has been monstrous.

People might even consider committing suicide when they experience betrayal.

They lose their value, and self worth.

How can anyone ever say the loss of divorce is not as painful as the loss of death. It may be different, but certainly painful. 

I know you might find it strange that I feel so passionate about this as my loss has been through death and I suffered it in such destroying manner.

But I am angry towards the people who dare minimize the loss of a divorce.

Stop doing that. It is cruel, not fair and it does not serve you or your life.

Spending time competing with someone else’s grief is time wasted. (Click to Tweet!)

A complete waste.

You have no right to diminish someone else’s grief.

Not only are you not driving your car towards the road that will lead you to your second chapter. But you are making a U-turn and heading towards the home of grief.

And you hurt your self the most.

Whether you have gone through a divorce or a death make sure you are aware of the following.

Grief has many different masks.

It comes into our life in many ways.

Divorce and death are only two of them.

The list is endless.

So when you meet someone who has lost their job, their kids don’t talk to them, has been bullied, abandoned, rejected and cheated on validate their grief.

Acknowledge their pain.

Don’t try to tell them it wasn’t as big as yours.

It is inhuman and cruel.

Grief does not only belong to the people who lost their loved ones through death, it belongs with everyone who had their heart broken.

And you could never compare it to your pain because you have never experienced theirs.

When I discovered The Waiting RoomI thought I would find millions of people who have been through tragic losses.

Do you know who else I found in there?

People who have been grieving losses that have been invisible to the world.

There were more people with invisible shameful losses in the Waiting Room than tragic traditional losses like mine.

So now that you know this, show some compassion and understanding to the people who have grieved silently and shamefully because the world around them is made by people who do not believe their grief is big enough for compassion. And they never heal.

Don’t add to their grief, help free them from the Waiting room by showing compassion.

WHAT TO DO:

Find someone today who experienced a loss that is shameful and hidden.

Tell them this:

I am so very sorry you have been walking this path alone. Know that I may not have walked in your shoes but I feel your pain and sorrow. I am so sorry for your loss.

Now we can start healing ourselves together instead of dividing our sorrows and building them to be as monstrous as possible.

Enough said.

Thank you for reading me today.

Join the conversation here.

Christina

PS. Send SECOND FIRSTS to a friend today.

Comments

  1. Yes, I agree. As someone who is divorced, I used to say (Please don’t take offence) “When you get divorced, help is hard to find, when you are widowed, everyone makes you casseroles.”

    • I do not know how anyone could possibly compare death and divorce. Aren’t they one in the same? Isn’t divorce the “death of a marriage”? Five years ago when I discovered the love of my life, my “soulmate” had a girlfriend and betrayed me – I felt as though someone had just thrown me into the throes of hell. I literally crumbled. I could not put one foot in front of the other, I just cried and cried. I was sick to my stomach, I was beyond hurt. And over time to see his smug face and how he hurt our children and our entire family and could care less – was just as bad. When you truly love someone and believe all they have told you – it is difficult to see that time will heal and you will once again be able to breath and one day to find you can “live” and you discover that it wasn’t the perfect love at all – because a true love story never ends. So, grieve all you want and need and seek validation, and go to friends and talk with a counselor – you don’t need casseroles – you need to know it is ok and that your pain is unique and real. Time does heal all wounds – even divorce. you all deserve a good life!!!

  2. I have been through both, a divorce years ago, and now the death of my life partner. And no, everyone is not making me casseroles. I felt more anger over the betrayal, than grief, during my divorce.

  3. After the death of my husband 4 years ago leaving me and 4 kids behind I was devasted. Have never felt so much pain in all my life!! Didn’t have much help at all! Only from my dad, and mind you my mother had passed away only 3 months prior..so we were grieving her death as well. Death vs divorce…yes they are both extreme losses. I have many friends who are divorced, and their lives have been turned upside down just as mine was. I haven’t experienced their pain they haven’t mine…so who is to judge whose is greater? I know for me? Seeing my spouse move on with another woman would be devastating..and yet…knowing my Kidd are growing up without their dad ? Is equally as devastating…so there is no easy road. All we can do as Christina said is be a support to one another and show love and compassion. Not anger…anger gets you nowhere. Peace and love.

  4. Christina,
    Thank you. To open your blog and “Dear Audra” was the most amazing gift. Yes, my loss is not one where my children will never see their father. I chose my loss, and I don’t receive the same support. How many of you who went through divorce gad people gather around you, hugging you, offering help, crying with you? There is no “moment” that I can really pinpoint as goodbye. Was it filing the papers, done myself in the basement of a courthouse surrounded by strangers? Or was it standing before the judge and hearing her say “I’ll sign these later, I have a meeting, but you can pick up your copies tomorrow.” And that ended 21 years of marriage. And I was alone. Got into my car alone. Went hole alone. And started living alone. But my kids don’t get it really. He’s still in my house. It’s a huge house. We live separate lives, but we get along. But he’s not my husband. I’m not his wife. And our 4 kids now have a broken home.

    It took my family 2 weeks to come see me. 2 weeks. I haven’t told a lot of my friends. My best friend-she’s my angel. She lives 4 hours away but call every day to tell me she loves me and that I’m strong and beautiful and amazing.

    I feel like I’m living in the twilight zone. I can’t move till I sell my house. I can’t start to really do much. I signed papers that dissolved a life we shared.

    I can’t understand loss through death on the level of a spouse. I’ve had it happen to people I love. And I was right there, for as long as they needed me. Maybe part of the difference is this-in death, your friends and family also suffer the loss. It’s not the same, but that person is gone. In divorce, it not tangible. Not really. And while I needed to do it because my marriage was causing me to slowly die inside, it still hurts. And I do feel shame. And guilt. And remorse.

    I’m sending prayers to everyone who has suffered loss. We need each other. We need to stand together. No fighting. No comparing. Just love, prayers, and the knowledge that we are all here for each other. One day at a time.

    Love and Blessings
    Audra

  5. I don’t think its a question of what is greater, its pain & its real. It’s how we deal it (like scars), as time passes the pains wanes, the scars are a reminder of what has happened, they don’t go away they become a story of your path, its how you deal with it & continue on. I find the hardest part is trying to shut down your mind & stop dwelling on the what ifs and trying to move forward. I know I woke up today so its a great start to day and I can only hope & pray it gets better.

  6. I lost a spouse through incarceration. My husband was falsely accused of a crime and has been in prison for over eight years. The pain is excruciating as you watch your children grow up without a dad, yes he’s alive but can only be seen on occasion across a table with armed guards. The crush of emotions was unbearable most days as I had to pick up the pieces all alone and and try to support myself and my children while the prison system abused my defenseless family mercilessly. But the worst part is that no one really knows how to help you- there wasn’t a death, wasn’t a divorce, just in fathomable injustice. And I would be rich for all the times I heard that God has a plan in all of this. Bottom line is the grief is real… I appreciate your blog Christina and it’s words have comforted me and lifted me up. Grief is grief, no matter it’s story origin- it rips your heart out and turns your world upside down.

    • Thanks, Lori. My husband is in prison, too. People have been supportive but they don’t recognize that we are grieving the loss of him, the loss of a whole family. When I explain that we are grieving, it surprises them. Most people simply have no idea what it’s like. So I tell them.

  7. I am not on here to debate which is worse in the debate over death vs divorce. I am however here to give some perspective on the things I have experienced in the last 7 years. I think grief occurs in many different situations not just those 2 situations. Please excuse the lack of correct punctuation, grammar, etc. This is being written straight from the heart. 7 years ago after dealing with a son’s drug issue for 3 years my husband and I had him kidnapped and put in the wilderness for 9 months. At the same time my husband’s company was sold and he was out of a job. He moved to Seattle for a year so we were commuting to and from Ks, where I lived, to Seattle, where he lived and to Portland to where my son was. All the while I still had an older son in Ks going to college. I mention the biggest of the situations because if I went in to how hubby and I were turned into CPS for child abuse, read in the paper that my son’s therapist was going to jail for selling drugs to minors, having son arrested in school, son coming home for home visit and going back to wilderness and fails a drug test thus delaying his graduation from there, and other son having issues with the law as well, this post would never conclude. So please understand that there is so much more going on during this time. After a year of this my son graduates and my hubby finds a job at home. During all of this I am struggling with depression and being alone all the time. Shortly after this my brother almost dies and needs a quintuple bypass. No insurance and no money. I go stay and help out for a while in Tx where he and my mother live. 9 months later my brother drops dead from an aortic abdominal anureysm. He could not have been saved even if he was on the operating table when it occurred. Ironically he dies in the same house and exactly 24 years and 1 day from the day our dad died. My dad had been retired 6 weeks. Since then my mother had remarried and moved to a new home that my hubby and I bought for her with the understanding she would sell former house and pay us. That didn’t happen. When my brother died he had no money, job or insurance. My sister in law and niece and nephew were destitute. The same summer my sister in law broke her leg and had to have help with everything. I went down for 6 weeks and take care of her and her 2 kids. Paid for everything, gladly and willingly. Including cheerleading camp at college for my niece. Cash given out left and right. At this time my mother and step dad start bottoming out financially and need help as well. Hubby and I are now supporting 3 households plus 2 kids in college and their expenses-which we had always planned on. In between my brother’s death and sister in law’s accident my closest cousin died unexpectedly. We were extremely close. We taught together for years and she and her hubby were the guardians for my kids. Couldn’t make it to funeral because I was out of the country and couldn’t get a flight back in. Not long after the death of my brother my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I had to go through her entire house and see all my memories with price tags on them. I had to decide what to sell and what to keep. Couldn’t keep much because the money was needed for the assisted living facility she now lives in. At the beginning of last summer hubby and I had niece come live with us and work for the summer. She worked at his company and made good money. We treated her like our own and tried to show her that even in her grief she could make a life she wanted. At the end of the summer my sister in law and I had a falling out over the condition of the house my mom had been letting them live in-remember the house my mom was supposed to sell? Brother and family lived there rent free and with my mom and step dad carrying all their expensed incurred by house. When my sister in law moved out she left precious things of my brothers behind and left the house looking like squatters had lived there. Sent sister inlaw an email since she wouldn’t answer her phone. As i knew would happen she cut off all ties with us although she didn’t quit giving my cell phone number to her credit lenders for when she defaulted on things! In fall of 2012 I realized my husband had become my biggest enemy. His treatment of me was horrific. I was not only alone and lonely since he traveled constantly with his job but had also been diagnosed with Chronic Active Epstein Barr. He had no sympathy, patience or desire to help and support me. My divorce became final June, 5,2014. The marriage could have been saved if he had even tried 50%. I have lost countless friends bc of the things he has said to them about me. My niece that lived with us last summer did not invite either of us to her graduation or grad party this spring. She only had 8 tickets so she invited her new boyfriend and her mom’s family, who did not help when her mom had her broken leg, has never helped financially, and never helped the kids with anything. So at 50 I find myself with no husband, no money, only one member of my nuclear family who will soon not remember me, no connection to my late brother’s family and very few friends. Why am I even sharing all of this? Because, except for a terminal illness or death of a child I have experienced most things that 1 person doesn’t experience in a lifetime. I do not have one friend that has had any of the same experiences I have had in 7 years and certainly not all of them. If I were asked which one of these life experiences was the worst? I could only say all of them. Death is tragic and the grief is overwhelming. That person is gone. In my case all three happened without a chance to say goodbye. Having the child who lives in your heart and every part of your being kidnapped and sent to live with strangers in the wilderness? That put a hole in my heart and soul that will never heal. Losing my only sibling through death and then his family through estrangement? Gut wrenching and hard to even wrap my mind around. Wondering each holiday if it will be the last one my mother will know who I am? Buckles me to my knees. Being diagnosed with a condition that mimics mono and has no treatment and no cure? Devastating because no matter what was happening in my life Ialways had the ability to work out and be accomplishing something each day. Now my days are always a crap shoot as to whether I will have the energy to even go to the gym. That was the last thing I had to hold on to. Now gone. The divorce? Shock,numb,grief,devastated, battered. So to answer my earlier question which is worse? I don’t know. I only know that each and every life changing event, no matter how big or small, that negatively impacts your life is significant and should be treated as such. So many times people judge based on their own experience of one or the other. I don’t think that one is worse than the other. I think it depends on the individual and how they are able to react and respond. What may not be a big deal to someone may be life altering to another. I think that instead of debating we need to validate each one’s pain as they experience it. Please understand, if you can even follow the post, that I am not looking for sympathy. I just wanted to say that grief is grief no matter how it comes to you and whether or not someone else deems it as something to be grieved. Grief comes from all directions and experiences. Let’s remember that before we debate whose grief if the worst. Hope, prayer and support to all who are hurting..xo

    • I agree with your message, greif comes in many forms and the culmunation of many types in a short span of time can be devastating depending upon your support system which I believe determines whether we handle it well or are completely overwhelmed. Never assume you know what another is feeling, you have not lived their life which forms their view of circumstances. Instead express empathy and show compassion period…

    • I am so so sorry. I have had a rough few years, and one concept i read was the distinction between simple grief and complicated grief. Simple grief you can start to emerge from in a year, usually around 14 mo is the hardest part (varies greatly). Complicated grief is where there are some things still sticking into you, changing, but not fully resolving. Mine is like that, and sounds like yours is, too. Over the miles and from Canada, i am praying for your heart tonight. For comfort and peace to surround you, and give you hope for the future.

  8. Very well put, Christina.
    As someone who has experienced both, I agree with all your points. I personally found the divorce more painful, due to the lies, betrayal, etc that come with infidelity. The divorce also cost me my home and extended family. One other difference I noticed is the lack of full closure. The “ex” is still around and in the children’s lives and a constant reminder.
    I have become very active in my Church’s singles group and have many friends that are widow/widower. There are always discussions about this issue of differences, as it affects us when we attempt dating. The folks who loose their spouse through death usually are ready to date and remarry long before the divorced people.

    Thanks for creating this site, and God Bless you on your journey.

    Ray Caka

  9. I’ve been thru both: DW was wife #2.
    You CAN’T compare divorce with death.
    Divorce is NOTHING compared to death.

  10. Everyone grieves differently and no one can ever compete with pain. Everyone has the right to feel as they do. You mentioned that some people who experience the loss of divorce even go on to commit suicide or feel that is an option. I am a widow at 29 because my husband committed suicide. It does hurt me when people compare their divorce to my pain. Suicide is like a category all its own. My pain is no more real than someone who experienced a different kind of death or loss, but it is VERY DIFFERENT and in no way the same, which is what I have heard a few times. There simply can’t be a comparison and it’s traumatic in a way that is beyond divorce, especially if it was not a peaceful death. I struggle. And I say that as someone with grief and loss training, who is an MSW, LSW, and who works with people who deal with life changes. It hurts too much when people could dare compare divorce to my husband taking his own life. I would never minimize someone else’s grief, EVER, but for someone to compare theirs to mine is insensitive.

  11. I have been divorced and lost my fiance in a car accident months before we were to be married. I had known my fiance since I was 13, and he was my first major crush, the one that I based all of what I had found attractive in men throughout my life. I was crushed in the divorce. There is no doubt about that. There was anger to help me get through the pain of betrayal. My son still gets to see his dad. I am at a point that I just want my ex-husband to live a happy life. I know that he’s alive and well. There can be no comparison to the loss of my fiance. He was my soulmate and best friend. Our children will never get to see their dad again, and that is an added heartbreak. I will never know that he is living a happy life, even if it was not with me. When you truly love someone, you want them to be happy, even if that happiness is not with you. This grief is so much worse for me personally. Everyone has their own personal worst thing that has happened to them, and I will not downgrade or insult someone else by saying that their grief and worst thing is less than mine. I just know that for me personally, the divorce was not as much of a complex loss as this one. I have lost my best friend, our children have lost their father, I have lost all of our future plans and dreams. It hurts to see a happily married couple of 10, 20, or 30 years, and wonder what I have done that is so horrible that I will never get to experience that with the love of my life. I can look back at my divorce and actually say that I am better off without him. I will never be able to say that about my fiance, husband of my heart. As I said, I’m not comparing someone else’sloss to mine, just my own personal experience against my other experience.

  12. Christina, thank you for so eloquently expressing in words what I’ve never heard before. I have a colleague who experienced the sudden death of her husband. Although we infrequently spoke on the phone, it took two years before I shared that my husband and I had separated after 32 years of marriage. I was so ashamed, I was afraid she wouldn’t understand that I was grieving too. Thankfully her response was, ‘a loss is still a loss’. We have been able to share our individual journeys, encouraging each other ever since.

    So many friends, families and colleagues admired our loving marriage that I found myself comforting them through our separation. I didn’t tell my mother for 15 months because I believed the news would break her heart. Infidelity, betrayal and the lack of integrity I seemed to experience as separate parts of the grieving process, as though I lost the person I believed I had been married to for so many years. The last anniversary card he gave me, he hand wrote his growing love for me standing the test of time to the next 31 years. Eight months later he would tell me I am not in love with you anymore. It took many months before I accepted that as true. Now I fight the images in my mind of him with another woman, saying and doing all the things he once did with me.

    I now understand that he too has silently grieved a mother and father that abandoned him in infancy. Secrets hidden, betrayal, shame, unworthiness, utter silence all shaping the man he became. As his second wife, I am witness that our divorce is eerily similar to the the first divorce. So much loss, so much hurt and pain that ripples out to children, siblings, extended family members and friends. We are all one grief stricken world and it can only heal if we each honor all the losses we all share. Four years later with all my effort I am still between the world of loss and what is yet to be. May we each travel gently on our own journeys and show compassion as we pass each other.

    Thank you Christina for the amazing work you are doing.

  13. Thank you for your message today. I have had a bad and abusive marriage, but with no one on this side of the world to help me and my children, I have stayed for 36 years, so my sons could have a home and be able to get their education and have a good base for the future. I shielded them from all that was going on and they only understood when they were grown and moved away. They told me they suspected and saw some signs but were growing up content and had not been traumatized. They are both successful and happily married, so for that reason it was all worth it. Then came grandchildren and they wanted to visit grampa and granma, have holidays at our house and so it went for a few more years. But, I was dying inside all through the years; and, when finally living alone with my ex became dangerous, actually life and death situation, just a matter of time, I escaped and I am still in hiding (it’s a big city). I got a divorce with the help of excellent lawyer who handled everything, so that I only met my former husband once, in front of the judge.

    I went through so much pain, depression bordering on suicidal, and was almost at the point to give up. My doctor prescribed antidepressants, which helped me climb from the bottom of the pit and survive through the worst. It has been almost eight years since the divorce, and I am still working through it. I got off antidepressants a few years ago and am trying to cope on my own, but I haven’t been able to get myself back; myself that got lost along the way of all the suffering in the married years and (surprise) post-divorce pain.

    I thought I will be feeling freedom and lightness after it was all over. Guess what! I did not. I felt like I had frozen in all the confusion of feelings, and the pain; and awful emptiness bordering on hollowness continued. Something had died inside me and I can’t get it back to life, I don’t quite feel who I was before the marriage. It’s like I am cut off from myself as a person and somehow cut off from real life. I try and try, but it seems as though I will stay like this forever. I am retired now, and can’t afford psychologists or therapists, pension is not enough for any extras above daily needs.

    Yeah, my grief and pain were and are just as bad as if someone had died. In those years I also mourned the deaths of my brother, mother and father. I don’t see how anyone can compare one person’s grief to another, they are all as different as the people who are grieving and the people that were lost. It’s horrible when a loved one dies, and yet there are memories one can treasure. For me, it’s myself that seems to have died although I am still breathing; and, I don’t have good memories of my life and cannot revive the person who was “me” before this marriage ruined me. And so I exist…the only bright moments when I talk to my boys or grandchildren.

    • Thanks for sharing your story Mira. I can definitely relate to – (surprise) post-divorce pain… I never anticipated just how difficult it would be, I thought the destructive marriage was the season where the majority of the pain would be experienced. But the loss of self has been insurmountable and displacing. You share your story so eloquently and with great self awareness, so be encouraged, you’re there – because I heard you, and resonated with you and your light.
      I am reminded of what my dad said to me just after my separation – Are you willing to pay the price? In this case, to suffer the pain that comes with starting over for the chance of life you deserve? Even when I feel the sorrow screaming deep within all my bones – yes. I’m willing to endure crossing this threshold to discover who I am and start over – on my own. Of course I wanted to see restoration happen in my marriage but that wasn’t an option. So although I’m still suffering, there is SO much hope here, than there was before. Sending you love.

  14. How bout both events occurring within 6 months apart? After my spouse was diagnosed with cancer, I discovered the betrayal, then she died. I felt like I was cheated out of my feelings all together. I don’t know how I ever got through that time, but I did! That was 7 yrs. ago, and I think I am just now pulling out of the swamp. Grief is grief! No need to put a value number on it…

  15. Love and Peace to all of us as we travel this journey of life and bear the losses that come along. Losses both big and small, that no one escapes. We all feel grief in our own ways. I lost my husband of 34 years to suicide over six years ago. It was very painful for me and my children. I agree that it is a different grief to process, however I do not minimize anyone else’s grief over another loss such as divorce. Compassion for each other is needed as we love and care for our fellow human beings. Everyone has had some kind of loss in their life. Reach out and CARE for someone else. In that way , we help each other move on to enjoy life again as there are many joys to be lived.

  16. This is the first time I have ever commented on any blog, and I do so out of disappointment from reading some comments re: death and divorce over the past couple of days. In saying that I realise that we are a community suffering heart break and when I remember that, I understand where the comparative comments stem.

    But this is what I can say for myself – I have experienced enough isolation within my own wilderness of loss through divorce and the last thing I need to feel is diminished in my pain – in comparison to another’s, especially within this community.
    I realise Christina’s personal story is about loss through death, but I have read ‘Second Firsts’ and follow this blog because I identify with the content.

    If loss and grief could be placed on a richter scale and the healing process was as easy as paint by numbers – then sure I would feel as much hurt as that ‘category’ would allow, in comparison to the category you’re in – below or above, and be ‘recovered’ within the ‘set period’ for my particular loss.
    It’s just not that black and white.
    I believe Christina’s work offers a set of procedures and processes for us to engage with, that help us to start over – from the loss of the life you had.

    The pain I’m suffering is what it is. It’s justified. I don’t have to prove my loss to you about what I’m experiencing. And you don’t have to prove yours to me.
    We’ve earned our stripes in loss – however we got them, but thats not the badge I want to wear. My badge will be – all the growth and fruit that comes from my loss.
    I understand perspective – things could always be worse. And that certainly helps me in moments, but I still need to process and address my loss within my life.
    I’m here, trying to crawl and fight my way out of the waiting room, others may have suffered more or less, but is that the point?
    Let’s fight our way out together, reach out with humility, compassion and courage. Rather than spending another minute in the waiting room arguing about who’s pain wins….
    Take care of yourselves and let’s take care of each other.

  17. I don’t think grief is competition. I have sat in a room for 20 weeks, of 10-11 people, and did grief recovery with them. I was the only widow. The rest were processing divorce. We did not compete! As every snowflake is different, every person is too, and ALL had different stuff going on. This was a 50 week course. Internationally known with chapters all over the world. Focusing on beginning again. I finished 40 weeks before dropping out. At that time I had started with 7 widows in my group. And when I was the only one left, I was being ‘set apart’ by the divorces, male and female. They just did not want any more stories about my sadness, my happy marriage of 46 years…..(every week we answered a questionnaire and then sat in a circle and shared our answers.). My answers were becoming a menace to them. it was about this time your book was published, and through FB, I discovered Second Firsts. I have read all your posts, and identified with your story. Now, almost two years later I have gleamed many important concepts and practices from you. IJUST DONT THINK IT IS ABOUT COMPETITION. That closes doors, as the grief recovery classmates closed mine.

  18. What I have learned is pain is pain. No greater and no less. I am much more compassionate with others since I learned this. So many different losses but the grief and pain exist. No one’s pain is above any other.

  19. You could be at realize how much I needed to be reminded of this fact….everyone feels the pain of loss and grief…and no one can EVER feel how deep it goes in another’s heart…or how long it takes that person to be able to move on…it’s been almost 4 years since my marriage exploded and I have been doing good..until the other day something happened to bring me to tears…BUT I allowed myself to cry, release the pain and get back up to move forward….thank you AGAIN for your honesty, even when it’s tough to HEAR….

  20. Giving everyone who’s experienced grief of some sort is a commandable act. We’re blessed to have come across people like you Christina. So blessed indeed.

  21. I agree there is no comparison, each can be a different kind of mind numbing grief. It’s been 5 years since my husband left and just when I think I’m doing OK I see or hear something that hurts me to my soul. For me the hardest part of divorce is people thinking it’s been long enough and I should just “get over it”, we’ve both moved on. When the person you loved with the deepest part of your soul betrays you and you have to keep watching it from the sidelines and act like life is great…I keep asking myself when will I finally be “over” it? I am so grateful to Christina for her bringing to light the understanding how difficult and somewhat similar divorce and death are and making me feel like I’m not losing my mind.

  22. I’m a widow of a 27 year marriage, my husband passed suddenly
    Of a heart attack at 45 in Feb 2013. 4 months later I met a man
    Who has been like a life partner as we’ve live together a year now.
    My number one struggle is he has had a divorce pending for a year
    And a half now, and I feel as a widow I’d never also deal
    With the trauma of divorce court and custody battles for his two
    Young children. I still grieve so deeply plus try to be
    His cheerleader and help him with financial struggles as well . Our passions tin
    High both when happy or angry at the world. He says we’re married already
    Without the paper…I say no we can be partners but after a 30
    Year relationship I’m not ready to submit a lot of my
    Independence I’ve longed for during my marriage.
    Depression and hormones are ruling my life. Praying for guidance and peace!!

  23. I just bought your book. I let out a deep sigh that stays with you the rest of your life, after you have experienced death and separation (divorce). I have lost both my parents and my husbands parent and now experiencing a divorce, Christina you are absolutely right. The pain is equally horrible, death is more acceptable in society and divorce brings a stigma that surrounds it, along with the pain that someone’s children experience. My experience took me through the loss of my father, who was a close member of my immediate family-he lived with us for years. He fell into the roll of helping me with daily activities. Like groceries, bills, meals, discussion of finances and my husband and my children. My husbands roll then was his job. The family dynamic changed by the lose of my Dad, I lost my father but a major puzzle piece in our family. I had to learn to retrain my brain and learn to be kind to myself. We are our worst critics. I have describe this process like this – the soul completely rips, stripping each piece of the person you thought you were, days you feel you cannot go on and moments you cant get out of bed. But something grabs you, a smile from your child, the will to see the sunshine, feel the breeze on your face. To laugh and sing and dance. You rise from the ashes of dispare and darkness, to rise like the phoenix bird. Re-born, reignited and a will to feel life as a new. person. You begin a new you . It is the most powerful and painful experience of a life, once the curtain clears you find a wonderful you, with new hope and a journey with scars, but with strength to seek out this life, you are to live to it’s fullest.

  24. I have lost 2 husbands- my children have lost 2 fathers. Although my first husband and I were divorced when he died, it was painful to deal with- especially seeing my 5 grieving children so heartbroken. My second husband died a year ago- my kids stepfather. He also has 5 children. The grief has been over whelming and having to handle the grief myself and also 10 children has been unbearable at times. Many times I have asked myself- why me? I am no where ever thinking I could have another relationship- too much pain. One day at a time is all I can handle right now.

  25. In death, someone dies. Has everyone forgotten that person whilst dwelling indulgently on those who remain? Death is not just about the people who are left behind. It’s about a person, often far too young, who deserved more time. More life. They will never get the opportunity of life again. In divorce, nobody dies. It may be extremely painful, it may be stigmatised, but nobody loses their life and, in the end, both people usually survive and grow. Grieving a death takes into account the loss the dead person themselves encountered and so is fundamentally different, and incomparable to, other losses.

  26. As I read this, I started crying! In the 20 years since my husband walked out on us, I have NEVER come across ANYTHING written on this subject! First I want to say that I have friends and family members who are widows and I went thru it with them! It is a horrible experience! But, when a woman loses her husband to death, in general, she receives compassion, love, respect, and help! In my loss, in general, I received unfriendly looks, the silent treatment, abandonment, and felt shame! I was branded “a divorced woman”! I’m just a statistic, a forgotten one! People don’t understand that I experienced a death ~ death of a relationship, death of a life that was suddenly ended, death of my identity! The pain and seclusion took me 4 years just to get thru it!!! I have never received any type of counseling, and I know that the grace of God has brought me as far as I’ve come, but I wonder if I am totally healed after the way I reacted to reading your post!

  27. Those of you who compare death and divorce should experience a devastating tragedy like losing someone you love at a very young age. You should experience a suicide or a long and devastating illness, you should experience the anger and the devastating grief that never goes away. Nobody helps those who grieve, NOBODY NEVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Our pain is huge but people don’t care. You are the proof of it, comparing a normal and common situation like a divorce with something so awful like the premature death of someone you love, maybe in a violent way, maybe after years and years of extreme desperation. Divorce is nothing compared to death. You should thank god you haven’t experienced huge tragedies.

  28. Having been widowed twice and divorced once, I can speak from experience. Both divorce and death are extremely painful. They both shatter you into a million pieces and rock you to your very core. Both are painful to live through, and you do question your sanity. The only difference I’ve noticed is when divorcing, I come from a place of anger. I’m angry at the world, plain and simple. When becoming a widow at age 26, and then again at age 56, I was sad, not angry. I did experience anger yes after the love of my life died, but I was more sad than anything.

    I don’t do comparisons. Both divorce and death sucked the life out of me. I had to find different ways to heal from each life-changing event. I’ve learned that compassion goes a long way, both for myself, and also for my widowed and divorced friends. They all hurt …I try to show love and understanding.

  29. Thank you for the message. I have been through divorce and having my finance die suddenly. I must say there is grief in both. Divorce is a different grief, a loss and an ending of a relationship that was not meant to be. My grief toward the person I truly loved and left suddenly was a nightmare. There is no comparison. They are both grief but so different. Having them both makes it truly hard to believe that I will ever be able to have a relationship again. I am to afraid of the grief and pain. I couldn’t bear going through it again. So for now I am just living each day in this waiting period. Hopefully I can get out and have my whole heart again to share with people that may feel the same difficult times I have encountered. Grief is horrible and no one should have to go through it alone. So thank you for sharing with the world.

  30. To Susanna, when my mom died when I was six years old, my family wasn’t making us casseroles. In fact, nobody was doing a damn thing. My father actually didn’t really get along with his in-laws…..so what does that tell you? Before you go saying how divorce is better—-why don’t you even stop to use your own brain and put 2 and 2 together????? Ever thought that death is more permanent than divorce? Of course, you probably haven’t. That’s because people like you are too fuckin stupid and would rather let your mouth write a check your butt can’t cash.

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Christina Rasmussen

Welcome to the Message in a Bottle page, here you will find wisdom, truth and tools for you to start over. Make sure you sign up at the top to be sure to receive it in your inbox every Friday.