There is a frequent practice these days of comparisons – “my grief is worse than yours,” “my suffering is worse than yours,” “my love is deeper than yours…”
It’s a concept that I don’t understand and one that I have explored in some depth after the death of my younger brother a couple of years ago.
Everybody’s experience of grief, of suffering, of love…they are all different. Regardless of their difference, though, they are all equally important to the individual who experiences them.
When we make a habit of comparisons, whether intentional or not, we trivialize each other’s experiences.
We take away from someone their right to experience their emotions, we minimize their losses, we dismiss their gains.
We essentially tell each other that your experiences don’t matter and on occasion, we also insinuate that our own do.
An example of this that many of us may be familiar with is the frequency with which parents of two-legged children say “it’s just a dog,” when a four-legged parent shares their love for their dog.
This begs the question of why…
Why is our experience more important than someone else’s? Why do we feel the need to elevate our own experiences and overlook or downplay those of others?
Everyone likes to feel important, recognized and cared for. Everyone has the right to feel this way, but not at the expense of others.
So the next time that someone shares their experience with you, I encourage you to listen and the next time that someone tells you “it’s just a dog,” encourage them to do the same.