I’m supposed to be writing my next Fine Art Views article, but I got sidelined early.
A dear friend posted an article by an author dealing with the devastating loss of their parents. This friend was going through the same experience, and it was hard.
Many chimed in with similar sentiments. Then someone read the article as saying this was “the worst” felt unnecessarily competitive. They felt there is no “worst”, there is just “devastating.” The original author of the article never said those exact words, but that is obviously how they felt. And it could be the worst for them (the author of the article), because usually our first death is the loss of our mom or dad, and it’s big. They just haven’t gotten to their next “worst death” yet. This commenter I call “not necessarily the worst” or “NNTW.”)
Someone else agreed, that not everyone has “stellar families”, as in “not my parents”(“NMP”).
And then someone else felt the need to chastise those folks. They are the (“rebuking commenter” or “RC”).
And here is where I say “stop”. Just…stop.
Here’s what I wrote, expanded and styled with protection for privacy:
Both NNTW and I know the article resonated with the original poster (“OP”), just as it resonated differently with NNTW.
(“Not my parents” or “NMP” commenter) is correct in that not everyone had a loving, healing relationship with their parents, (and boy, do I appreciate their comment!)
You begin to realize that everyone has a tragedy, and that if he doesn’t, he will. You realize how much is hidden beneath the small courtesies and civilities of everyday existence. Deep sorrows and traces of great loss run through everyone’s lives, and yet they let others step into the elevators first, wave them ahead in a line of traffic, smile and greet their children and inquire about their lives, and never let on for a second that they, too, have lain awake at night in longing and regret, that they, too, have cried until it seemed impossible that one person could hold so many tears, that they, too, keep a picture of someone locked in their heart and bring it out in quiet, solitary moments to caress and remember…
Grief is not a contest. It’s okay to have feelings when it seems someone else’s grief seems to invalidate ours. It’s okay to envy someone whose grief is more “expected” and the relationship they had with that person is based on love instead of pain. It’s good to recognize, as RC did, that losing a child, or children, who never got to even to be in the world, someone we were sure we would outlive, can dash all our hopes and dreams.
All of this is overwhelming.