Week 5 ~ Mirror, Mirror ~ The Comparison Trap
Mothers often fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to one another. This is a trap many women fall into. We compare our families, mothering styles, fashion sense, careers or lack thereof, bodies, etc. Even mothers with babies in heaven compare the way we grieve our children. I know…sad…but we do it, if we’re honest enough to admit it. So, how can we find freedom from this? Sharing is a start…telling the truth…admitting the struggle. I think, then, we will see that we all love our children, regardless of how we choose to remember and honor their lives…whether publicly or quietly…with big parties or simple moments of remembrance. Be real on this week’s post, and let’s free ourselves from the trap of comparing!
It’s so easy to compare how you are doing in your own grief with others. You wonder if you are doing it wrong because you are too happy, too sad, or too whatever. The most important thing that anyone who experiences grief needs to remember is that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Even if two people had the exact same set of circumstances their grief would still be different. Just like each person is unique, each grief experience is unique.
The pressure from others and even ourselves to conform to a certain way of grieving can be intense. You can have family and friends wondering when you are going to get better, thinking that after a certain period of time everything should be ok. In the months after losing Carleigh I had those wondering why I wasn’t the same person. They longed for the person who existed before the loss of my daughter, but I couldn’t bring back a person who was essentially dead. The old me died when my daughter died. Eventually I found more of myself again but it took time and those around me just needed to have patience.
It is easy for others to compare your grief to someone they know (or even compare with how they would have handled it) saying that this person handled it so much better than you, which only makes you feel like there is something wrong with you. I had this happen to me just in this last year. It wasn’t said to my face but I was told that someone said that so and so was doing so much better than I was in handling the loss of my baby. It was someone that should have known better than to say it at all.
Most of the time when people have compared or judged my grief it has been behind my back because they know if they said it to my face I would let them have it. I think what they fail to realize is that I always find out about it through someone else. I definitely could confront them about it but I choose to let it go. It is important to remember to keep your words supportive and kind for those grieving because anything that is said is likely to get back to the person you are talking about. (I think that is something to remember about everything you say.)
I know that some people don’t get why I do some of the things I do. (Heck, my husband doesn’t even get it sometimes.) I have a need for my daughter to be remembered and honored. I want her memory to live on even though she is gone from this earth. I am sure some think I am a glutton for punishment holding loss so close in my heart. The thing is, I couldn’t shake the loss of my daughter from my heart even if I wanted to. It is so ingrained in me that nothing can get rid of it. So instead of drowning in the sadness of the loss of my daughter, I choose to create goodness out of it. Some people will never get that the things I do for my daughter isn’t me lingering in grief or wallowing in self-pity, but finding healing and my own way of keeping my daughter present in my life. I’m sure it would be easier for them if I would just forget her but that is physically impossible for me to do.
Do I compare myself to others? Absolutely.
I have compared myself since getting Carleigh’s fatal diagnosis. I have wondered if there was something wrong with me for not being sad enough, for not crying enough from the moment of getting her fatal diagnosis to now. This is even coming from someone who knows it is perfectly ok to happy and who found many joy-filled moments in such tragedy. We all have different levels of wanting to remember and holding onto things. We experience different levels of happiness and sadness with grief. I think what all the comparison comes down to is that we are just searching for someone who feels exactly the same as we do. We want someone who gets it. We want someone who understands when words aren’t possible. All of us who have lost a baby have a general understanding of each other, but we long to make even deeper connections within the babyloss community. We want to find that loss soul mate so to speak.
Never forget that even if no one on this earth gets you, God does. He knows exactly how you feel and will never minimize your feelings. You can take all your anger, hurt, frustration, and so much more straight to Him. He is a big God and He can handle anything we throw at Him. God will never judge you. God will never let you down. God will walk beside you even when everyone else has left you.
You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.