“We can try to measure our grieving process to justify the depth of our pain or to remind us that it could be even worse. But trying to set a hierarchy of feelings is not good at all.” – When I read this headline at the American site Modern Loss, that just like Let’s talk about grieving?, talks about the grieving process without taboo and with a lot of affection, I soon remembered one of the first learnings we went through at the begginning of our project.
Each grieving process is unique.
It can’t and it won’t be compared.
For the ones who don’t know, one o four first activities-long before the website- was to ask people, friends and everyone else who wanted to, to tell their grieving process stories for a study. At that time, in the end of 2014, we were not sure how we could help other people and we had the idea to start listening more and more stories and then we took our perception to specialists.
In a few weeks, we received over 170 emails with open and very touching reports in many parts of the country.
Some people had experienced recent losses, as the father who told the strory of his son’s suicide, that took place less than a month before. Others rescued memories from 20, 30 and even 40 years ago. Although we find many feelings and shared events, we understand after the first ten testimonials that every love story was unique and so was each grieving process.
It was clear as “grieving” is an abstraction: each one goes through his or her own. And even those who went through more than one loss – and we have received some stories like this, including my own testimonial – refers to grieving in the plural. Each loss generates feelings and it’s own reactions because it depends on the relationship with the person who is gone and the time of life, support network, personality and faith, etc.
The curious thing is that despite the uniqueness of grieving being so obvious for therapists and specialists, for the common sense it is often ‘just one thing’. Perhaps the lack of knowledge about the subject causes many to see the fight as a unique experience. Or, in other cases, as half a dozen experiments ordered in a value hierarchy, being the loss of a child undeniably the most difficult experience. But according to the warning in the Modern Loss article, we gain nothing by trying to measure and rank the suffering of others. On the other hand, only when we understand the uniqueness of each experience we really practice empathy and welcome each one’s process.
For those who read in English, get to know the work of Rebecca Soffer and Gabriela Birkner, founders of Modern Loss