If you are just reading this for the 1st time, I am joining up with Sufficient Grace Ministries in their "Walking With You" weekly series. My previous posts:
Comparison. Each & everyone of us has done it. Sadly it's part of human nature and it's one of the quickest ways to suck the joy out of life if you let it. It's so easy to look at others & see the nice in-shape figure they may have, the perfect kept house, how well organized someone is, how many friends they seem to have, etc.
But what looks to be better in our eyes might only be part of the story as that person keeps the other part of their story hidden. That nice in-shape figure might because they secretly struggle with an eating disorder or suffer from infertility and haven't had the blessing of a baby to add a few pounds. The person with a perfect house or one who is well organized might struggle with OCD and instead of spending precious time with their kids, they spend all that time cleaning & organizing. That person with all those friends might only have those friends because of who they are and the second that person needs a friend in a time of need or crisis, all those supposed friends aren't there and they are left feeling alone.
This type of comparison also can happen in the world of grief. I had the advantage, if you can all it that, of knowing during pregnancy that my son was going to eventually die. That gave me some time to do some research & talk to people who have been down this road before. I could see that there were many ways of grieving, none of them wrong and none of them better than another. I had no clue what my grief journey would look like but it helped knowing that however it happened for me, there was no right or wrong way. So I can't say that I looked around at others comparing how I was grieving with how they did. In fact, I am grateful to so many for being open in their journeys and how they captured memories as this gave me ideas and helped to "guide" me in a sense to have less regrets (but I still have those, just not as many as I might have.) It also gave me the reassurance when I needed it that I wasn't the only one to have felt & think the way I do/did.
What I did/do struggle with when it comes to comparing grief is seeing how some have such amazing support systems and finding myself envious of them. Ya know, those people who had family with them helping them whether physically or emotionally, just not in those early days but in the months afterwards. Those who organized fundraisers or special events in honor of their friend or family members baby. Those whose family/close friends randomly think of their baby and speak their name, remember the different anniversary dates & acknowledge them (without a facebook reminder). Those who have family & friends that realize they still have tough days even a few years later and still support & help them through those times without judgement.
I find myself thinking I must not be worthwhile or loved enough to have family/friends to do those types of things for us. My grief must not be as big of a deal to not deserve the support that others get. My son's life must not have meant as much as someone else's baby so that's why he doesn't get remembered or acknowledged. (I do want to say I have 2 family members and a few friends the previous doesn't include that I am truly thankful for). But for us, the people who most would think would've been there for us, sadly weren't. I also experienced people walking out of my life when I needed support the most. I get that grief is hard, dirty work when it comes to relationships but isn't that what Jesus calls us to do, grieve when they grieve & help carry others burdens, not to check out of a relationship when things aren't sunshine & rainbows? So yeah, I do compare myself to those who had such supportive family & friends as it seems their grief journey's were made just a bit easier by having many others around them to help share their painful burden, to carry them on the days they couldn't stand.
I feel that I've also been the one who has gotten compared to. Not by baby loss moms but by those looking in from the outside who haven't lost a child, comparing how I was/am to how others have grieved which has subsequently led to me being judged. Most might not realize but their comments do get back to me and again, they mostly come from those who chose not to be a support to us, and not from random strangers sadly.
I've tried to turn how I've been treated into making sure others don't go through that as well. When I know of someone else who is walking this grief journey, I try to do my best to be a support however I can be, not just in those initial first days but in the months to come. I know how much a random email or card means so I try do to for others what wasn't done for me. I don't want other moms to feel alone like I have at times. I guess you could say in doing this it helps me from becoming bitter over how I've been treated and doesn't let what I've gone through be all for nothing.
Through all this I've been learning that everyone's path & journey is different. We may look at someones situation and think how we'd do something differently or we'd never do that but truth is, we DON'T know how we'd be or what we'd do. God has made us each unique with different life stories. Life isn't all black & white, right or wrong, there are many different ways of doing things and that is ok. It's easier to sit back, judge and compare than it is to jump in the trenches with them to show grace, understanding & support. Imagine what life would be like if we'd stop the comparing & judging and just embrace where God has placed each person on their own journey!
"For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
"More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,"