Monday, February 04, 2013

Walking With You ~ Mirror, Mirror-The Comparison Trap

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.

Psalm 139:1-10

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.


Jennifer Ross said...

I was nodding in agreement as I read your post. So many things that I could and do relate to. No one has any right to compare how much better another bereaved parent has handled a loss, compared to you... It would be just about as bad as saying " I guess I loved and wanted my child more!" Of coarse not... but both statements are ridiculous!

Love you Holly!

Kelly @ Sufficient Grace Ministries said...

Yes! It makes me crazy that others judge someone's performance in grief. Ugg. (By the way, though, I did smile when you said if they said it to your face you would let them have it. haha...that's my Holly-girl!) I love that about that you walked this path with confidence and didn't let others sway you. I know that doesn't mean their judgments don't hurt...just because you didn't let it change your decisions. It still hurts.

Very good advice...that we should always be careful what we say. And, we should never judge someone's performance in grief...including our own.

Love you, girl.

Joni Thomas said...

This whole post was so beautifully written. I, myself, have been guilty of the comparison trap, and it doesn't help it just brings more guilt onto myself for bringing negative thoughts into a situation that is nagative enough.
You are so right when you say we search for our loss soul mate. I know I have found myself searching for that one person who has a situation close to mine because I feel so alone when I think about how I lost my son. But in the end we all have lost a child, and even if the situation is not exactly the same as our own, that connection alone brings us all closer together.

Lori said...

I love that you said if they said it to your face, you'd let them have it! Love.

Also, I so hate the whole, "So and so is doing better than you," thing.

Seriously? Like it's a contest????? People are ridiculous sometimes.


Tesha said...

Holly, so beautiful!!! You have so encouraged me from the time my journey began. I am so glad you have grieved you have laughed and you have love! I am also so glad you have blogged about it and given others the freedom to grieve and heal through your words and example. You are a wonderful mommy and Christian.

Hannah Rose said...

Thank you so much for this post, Holly! It is so beautiful. I relate to each word you wrote. Comparing my grief to others and wondering if I'm doing it all "correctly." Trying to find a "loss soul-mate," who will completely understand my specific circumstances. Truthfully, I think your story is one that is closest to my story that I've found...the loss of our first baby at age 19 through abortion (both who we feel were boys). And then the loss of our daughters at fullterm, who were both stillborn (of course, for different reasons and in different circumstances, but still). I feel I relate to you very much. But, there never will be someone with my EXACT story and that's okay. God wants to speak through each of our stories individually and He won't write the same story for anybody. But, HE is always there, with a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear, and an understanding heart. Much love and hugs, friend! <3

Kyla said...

Such a beautiful post... my hubby doesn't get me sometimes either :)

And I think those that haven't experienced loss, really don't know what to say, but they rather hear themselves talk then think of others feelings sometimes.

You are such an encouragement and I am thankful to be walking with you!

Catherine said...

Perfectly said Holly! I also found that the people in my life were expecting me to bounce back to my old self just a few weeks after Gabriel died. I don't think other people realize that babyloss is life-changing and has permanent effects. I wasn't really that sad and tearful after we received Gabriel's fatal diagnosis... I think I was in a state of shock and also I constantly got waves of peace and hope. Don't get me wrong, I was devastated and broken, but I wasn't a sobbing mess. It took me a long time to realize that there was nothing wrong with me. We're all different and process grief differently.

And I love the psalm you chose... it's one of my favorites when I'm feeling alone or lost <3

Kayla Yow said...


Your words ring so true! No one on this earth can truly understand you, but God can. And, He won't ever leave you! Thank you so much for sharing!

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