I 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.
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!
Join the Challenge!
Join the 5-Day Self-Care Challenge for Caregivers and start taking care of YOU!