Response to a post

This is the body of a response I wrote to a blog I was reading. The woman, Maggie, is going through a divorce. It is painful and she is, rightly, grieving. But she makes what I consider to be an unfair and innacurate comparison of her grief and mourning over her marriage to that of a widow’s grief over the death of her or his spouse’. There were 93 responses as of today, maybe 4 agreeing with my point of view, most just not even acknowledging that there could be any difference. I feel very strongly about this issue. As time has gone by since my husbands death I have mellowed; therapy and grief group has helped immensely with that, but my basic belief that there is no legitimate comparison of the two types of grief holds true, and always will. There are similarities, but the main difference, the fact that the spouse is DEAD, trumps everything else
         Michele Says:
  1.   0.    Whew….deep breathes…
I am very sorry that you are going through this Maggie. I love what you wrote and I have been fascinated and enlightened by the responses left here by others that have gone through divorce. Having never been through a divorce, I am particularly noticing the recurrance of the “shame” theme, and, I must say, that comforts me because, while I don’t feel that, I understand it, and understand how that could color almost any response. The idea of Failing at marriage, even if you were the one who chose to leave, must be very hard to deal with. And the urge to create similarities with the grieving that happens with the death of a spouse has to be alluring, a way to help lessen that shame and guilt.
I am a widow. My husband, who I loved dearly, died very suddenly, unexpectedly, and left my son (13 at the time) and myself to live afterwards. I almost didn’t live, but I had my son. I wish with all my heart that we were divorced. That my son still had his father. That I still had him in my life, even if I thought he was a complete bastard. That he was still alive…the things he has missed out on just take my breathe away. Life is amazing and he isn’t in it. It’s unfathomable to me, as has been the pain.
Early on after his death I sat across a table from a woman who was going through a divorce. She looked me in the eye and said that she wished he was dead. that it would be so much easier. I lunged across the table and slapped her right across the face, she fell to the floor and I felt amazing.
I know it was inappropriate, but it was real and it was true, and it was deserved.
That was the first time someone said that to me. I had nowhere to put that comment, no way to deal with it. Subsequently I became involved in a grief group where I could talk about those feelings and laugh at the utter stupidity that comment evokes, but not then.
Other people have said that since that time…they’ve gotten off easier.. I just calmly, firmly and vehemently explained to them that their children still had their father, that their ex was still alive and that a comment equating death with divorce was insanely stupid and that they should be ashamed of themselves. And to NEVER say that to another widow as long as they lived.
I have come a long way with my grief. I have processed it, talked about it in therapy and with other widows. I fell into the hole of drinking too much and emerged from that. I now give back by volunteering in support groups and nodding sagely as newer widows express their disbelief at some of the ridiculous things people say. My son is hard…his pain is palpable still, it kills me, but he is moving ahead with his life and I wish that my husband could see us now.
I wish, every moment of every day, that my husband were here with us, that he were ALIVE.
I believe all the women who wrote here that you do need to grieve this divorce, the loss of your dreams and expectations, and that it will get better.
I am telling you that, even moving ahead with life, which I am doing, the best I have is a new normal. I have found hope again and courage and strength to go on. But death ends a life, not a relationship, and the pain of the death of my husband will NEVER get better. I will NEVER see him again. My son will NEVER have his father.
This is the difference. There is no hope of that ever getting better.
That is not your reality, or the reality of any of the divorced people who have responded to this blog post. I have great sympathy for all of you; I have many friends who have divorced, i understand the awfulness of it, I have held their hands and listened to their stories and loved them fully as they got back on their feet. AS they have done for me, through my big awful.
Do not compare it though, do not. Or at least out-loud in front of a widowed person. On your blog..YES, do it. Because then the few of us who have had another experience can chime in honestly and openly and, hopefully, respectfully, and offer a different view.
I am sorry for the loss of your relationship, for all the loss here. I am glad I read this and am able to comment. All any of us can do is keep moving forward, feeling those feelings when they arise, telling our this way we are very similar.
Thanks for your post and my chance to respond with my truth.


I miss Tom every day. There is not an event that happens, a movie I see, a dinner with friends I go to, that I do not  wish with all my heart that he was here with me, with our son. Whenever I drive up to my house I have to breathe through the loss of my home. He was my home. I am bereft.

It will change, as all things do. But it will never get better. I am alive, he Isn’t . The injustice of that is mind-boggling, unfathomable, and true. I accept it, and it is unacceptable. I don’t know how that works.

That is my truth.



Add yours →

  1. I linked your post and left some comments on my blog. Thanks for sharing this important topic! My experience of divorce was much like a death. We are all linked together in loss.

  2. That must’ve been hard for you to write and you did it so respectfully and beautifully. I think comparing grief is a way for us to wrap our minds around the incomprehensible but you’re right that some things simply cannot be compared.

  3. While my husband, the father of our four children was dying last year and I was his full-time caretaker as well as doing my best to take care of our children’s emotional and logistical needs, I had a friend and a brother undergoing bitter divorces. Both have three children. I did not mind at all when my friend said, in the heat of some moment, something to the effect of it being unfair that my husband was afflicted instead of her soon-to-be-ex-husband, because my husband was such a good father and worthy person and would be missed so much more. I understood what she was trying to say. What did force me to bite my tongue and still makes me rage inwardly, months later, was when a member of my family said that my brother and I were “going through the same thing” running around as “single parents.” NO, NO, NO. No matter how crappy a parent one might think a former spouse to be, those children still have two parents. And while no doubt they are affected by the break-up of their parents’ marriage, and their lives change, they are NOT (at far too tender an age) grieving the death of one of the two most important people in their lives, nor navigating the incredible depths of their surviving parent’s grief and its effect on all members of the family who go on living. I’ve never been divorced, but I’m sure it can be painful; still, it is ultimately the voluntary ending of a contract, not an unwilling permanent loss, painful and horrible, derived from the random infliction the worst of medical afflictions. The dissolution of a marriage is NOT like the death of one of the people you love most, and who most loves you. If a person’s children had to watch their father die, as mine did, that person would never compare it to experiencing “single parenting” after a divorce.

  4. I forgot to comment on this post & I have to tell you:
    1. I love you.
    2. I’ve been through neither & therefore
    3. I do not know.
    What I do know is that people say hurtful, shitty things when they should just shut up.
    I’m learning to shut up when I don’t have the right words.
    The only right words I know are “I love you.”

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