Dear HuffPo: Divorce Is NOT Like Death, It's Like Divorce

7 years ago

My children will never see their father again. He will never be late picking them up for "his weekend." He will never spend another birthday with them, another Christmas, or see them in another Halloween costume. They will never call him on the phone. He will not attend their weddings.

They can't. He can't. His body was cremated. His ashes are buried.

To compare the loss of my husband to a divorce? Those aren't the same animals. That's why you don't do it. That's why I don't do it.

Pain shouldn't be compared. It requires you to make assumptions about my life, my loss, my world. Making assumptions is never a good idea.

I haven't been through a divorce, so I'd never presume to compare my loss to yours. I'd never presume to compare my grief to the grief of a divorcee.

But I do know that there's a difference between having parents and not. I do know there's a difference between having the ability to interact with your parents and not. I do know that there's a difference between burying your child's parent and watching him walk out the door. I'm not saying one is easier, but it is different.

So, please don't tell me it's similar when you haven't walked in my shoes.

Yes, there are rituals surrounding death and grieving the loss of a parent, but there are also stigmas about death that often result in children and the surviving parent being alienated by former friends and family members. People don't know what to say because becoming a widow at 40 is rare. Losing your parent at 12 or 13 is unusual. Friends don't know how to act. Family members are struggling with their own grief. It's not as neat and tidy as the author of Divorce is Like Death Without the Support or Rituals would have you believe.

While I appreciate her desire to have rituals and support through the loss and grief that happens as the result of divorce, there was no need to liken it to the death of a spouse. While my husband remains in the ground, her ex is above. Let's not compare apples and oranges. It trivializes both of our experiences.

Leah has been writing at Califmom since 2004. She became a 40-year-old widow in April of 2010 when her husband and love of her life for 21 years died from Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. She and her two children continue to live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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