Loss is Loss (but Love is Bigger)

Loss is LossI scrolled down through my Facebook post feedback–58 comments in just over an hour. Sympathy offered from friends and family far and near. My post touched a chord in many hearts. Loss does that. We’ve all experienced loss and it hurts. But I didn’t expect that response on my Facebook newsfeed. My mother did not pass away. My sibling are all still alive, my children are healthy.Los is Loss

I almost didn’t post about my dog because; well, because it’s my DOG. Because two weeks ago a friend’s daughter was killed in an accident. Because my sister lost her son years ago. Because a girl from my daugher’s college is in a coma from traumatic brain injury. Because a previous student of mine struggles with the long-term results from traumatic brain injury every painful hour of every struggling day. Because there are so many “worse things” out there.

I can still see clearly in my mind a young man toeing the gravel at his feet, desperately searching for words of comfort to offer me. Me –the mom with a son battling leukemia. His words of comfort? “Well, shoot.” He paused, battling for words, “Last year my dog had cancer and we had to, like, cut out the tumor in her side and it took her, like, I don’t know, like, four weeks to get better and act like herself again and I, like, had to take care of that wound and stuff.”

My jaw dropped and I lost the power to speak. A tumor removed from a pet versus a four-year-old son fighting leukemia? I did not appreciate the comparison of hurt, loss, and struggle—at that time.

But in the ten years since that conversation with the uncomfortable young man offering solace and relating to my struggle in the only way he knew how, I’ve learned a lot:

Pain is pain.

Loss is loss.

There are no pain-measuring-sticks complete with comparison charts sold at Walmart.
When sharing a personal struggle a friend sometimes utters this phrase: “Well, it’s nothing like what you’ve been through!” and then she will continue explaining her difficulty or hurt. I don’t like to hear that phrase from her because I want to help her, listen to and support her and nothing I’ve experienced is relevant to the conversation of the moment.

If something is hurting you, right now, then it’s hurting you! Plain and simple. It doesn’t compare to what’s hurting me simply because one is happening to you and one is happening to me. We should never base our ability to comfort someone else on whether or not we have ‘walked their walk.’ We do not have to compare in order to show compassion and sympathy. Click To Tweet

I look back on that awkward conversation now and I feel blessed that a young man took time to talk with me, to attempt to share with me in a painful moment, and there is no comparing of the pain of his dog versus my son—just a moment of pure “I’m sorry you’re hurting!”

I read through my Facebook feed and not one of the comments minimizes the hurt that comes from losing a pet and no one tells me they are going through something far worse—although they very well might be. Just 70+ comments of love and sympathy.

Loss is loss. But, my friends, love is love! We do not have to share first-hand experience with the exact pain someone is going through in order to show that we care, to sympathize and to offer comfort and love.
Loss IS loss. But LOVE IS BIGGER! #inspirememonday Click To Tweet

How have you dealt with loss? Have you ever loved someone through loss?

Inspire Me Monday Instructions

What’s your inspirational story? Link up below, and don’t forget the 1-2-3s of building community:

1. Link up your most inspirational post from the previous week (just ONE, please).

2. Vist TWO other contributors (especially the person who linked up right before you) and leave an encouraging comment.

3. Spread the cheer THREE ways! Tweet something from a post you read, share a post on your Facebook page, stumble upon it, pin it or whatever social media outlet you prefer–just do it!

Please link back to this week’s post or add the button to your post so that we can spread the inspirational cheer :).

I found inspiration for my Monday at #inspirememondays. Join us! (tweet this)

So, go ahead! Take the plunge and share your most inspiring post with us!

Take a moment to visit the other hostesses, too! Angie, Cindy, and Denise.


Please note: We reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Loss isn’t really objective. It affects us so personally; we lose a piece of ourselves, and that’s why we grieve. We may be tempted to place a child higher in an emotional calculus than we would place a dog, but that is looking at the response from the wrong end – we’re simply assuming more worth for the child.

    It’s not about the dog, or the child. It’s about how we loved them, and there are no ‘shoulds’ in love.
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser recently posted…The Hard Kind Of LoveMy Profile

    • Thank you, Andrew, for your perspective. “It’s about how we loved them” I agree!! Our loss and pain are as deep as the love we gave away.
      Lisa Brittain recently posted…FMF::VisitMy Profile

    • Love this – it’s about how much we loved them. Thanks for that, Andrew!
      Carol recently posted…Loss is Loss (but Love is Bigger)My Profile

  • And yes, I have had losses. After having to bury the bits of a friend – the bits I could find, that is, an 82mm mortar packs quite a punch when a round lands at one’s feet – in a tropical glade in a country you probably haven’t visited, I resolved never to get too close to people again.

    But I did, and the losses cut as deeply. All I can do is say, well, shoot. Wish he/she weren’t dead.

    Not much else. Mourn too much, and their legacy becomes sorrow.
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser recently posted…The Hard Kind Of LoveMy Profile

    • I think it’s important to keep their legacy more about them than about our own grief – not that it’s easy, but I feel like it honors them more!
      Carol recently posted…Loss is Loss (but Love is Bigger)My Profile

  • We are all walking our own paths with very different obstacles and it’s important to recognize the things that are important to you may not seem comparable to others but like you said, If you hurt, you hurt. Very sorry for your loss but I love your message here.

    xxcheers, Meag

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  • Thank you, Carol, for your honesty and for approaching a hard subject. I agree with you “Loss is loss. Pain is pain. But love is BIGGER!” And at the same time, I know that I have also been on both sides of these feelings. To be willing to love is to be willing to hurt. To be willing to hurt is to be willing to love. Our world needs more love because there is so much hurt!

    Thank you for getting us thinking and talking and living and loving…
    Lisa Brittain recently posted…FMF::VisitMy Profile

    • You’re right Lisa. We don’t think the world needs more hurt, but maybe it just goes hand in hand with loving. At least for now…
      Maybe our love just needs to be strong enough to help us survive the hurt.
      Carol recently posted…Loss is Loss (but Love is Bigger)My Profile

  • Beautiful. Loss is loss, hurt it hurt and you are so right when people try to relate they are showing that they care. It may not be the same, but we are all human and we all hurt and can help love on each other.
    Amanda recently posted…Chinese New Year – DisneylandMy Profile

  • We don’t have to compare to show compassion. I love that.

  • You and I are on exactly the same page. I have blogged about this very topic and used similar analogies, except I think mine was pain is pain. People get caught up in the comparison game far too often. Even with issues. I always bring up that not one sparrow is forgotten by God so surely he cares about an array of issues no matter how insignificant they may seem to someone else.
    Messy Mom recently posted…Let’s Network It OutMy Profile

    • God is so loving that NOTHING goes un-noticed and we are never un-loved. Insignificant is not even a word for our Creator, I’m pretty sure! 🙂
      Carol recently posted…Loss is Loss (but Love is Bigger)My Profile

  • Carol at Anawim

    Beautifully conceived and written, Carol! Thank you for sharing those thoughts. How many times I have hesitated to be vulnerable about my own pain because I judged it less consequential than the pain of the one to whom I was speaking. I feared waking a reaction such as yours when the young man attempted to comfort you. I would still fear that, I think, as I wouldn’t know whether my hearer had yet come to understand that pain is pain and love is love. I’ll be pushing this pebble around in my mind for a while. Thanks for stirring it up.

    • You’re right about fearing to awaken that reaction. I think those same things. But maybe showing compassion does not always involve our own stories of struggle and just simply a hug, a prayer or an “I’m sorry you’re hurting.” Then there is no comparison to draw objection? 🙂
      Carol recently posted…Loss is Loss (but Love is Bigger)My Profile

  • So beautifully written, Claire! I really enjoyed reading this! I have gone through loss – I have lost loved ones and I have had to go through letting 3 of our dogs go. You are so right, pain is pain and love is love. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story!
    Chrissy recently posted…Project 52 // Capturing Week 9My Profile

    • You’re welcome Chrissy. I’m sorry for your loss and struggles! So looking foward to a time when we won’t have to endure that any more!
      Carol recently posted…Loss is Loss (but Love is Bigger)My Profile

  • Great posting. One of my professional specializations is grief and loss. I find that a lot of people want to minimize their own pain because there are others hurting with deeper things in the world. I tell them that there will always be people who are experiencing deeper things and “greater” losses but how can we minimize our own pain like that? I think that keeping things in perspective is fine AND at the same time, we acknowledge our own pain as valid and, well, painful! It helps with the healing. When we love someone (furry or human), we also need to honor and acknowledge the pain of losing someone. Thanks for the sharing and the reminder!! 🙂 Great blog. Glad I found it.

  • Carol,
    I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your dog…and for your son’s battle with cancer. And you’re right: loss is loss….and each person’s grief is unique. We lost our dog Jubi a few years ago after he was with us almost 14 years…our whole family grieved.
    Dolly@Soulstops recently posted…Renew 15: When you get more than gas at the gas stationMy Profile

  • i love this article! it is so easy for me to either minimize my own pain…then wonder why i’m feeling so sad! or minimize the pain of another person who is suffering and simply needs love, not comparison!
    martha brady recently posted…A HEALTHY COMPUTER SHOWS UP UNHEALTHY…My Profile

    • It’s true – if we try to minimize our pain, or discredit it’s source, it seems to compound the feeling of grief! My hope is to live out-loud and show compassion at all times!
      Carol recently posted…Loss is Loss (but Love is Bigger)My Profile

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