Three Divorces and a Funeral

There’s a phase of grief that is seldom spoken of that I think all of us visit at one point in time or another: annoyance.
I hate comparisons. Don’t get me wrong. I understand people’s wont and need to empathize when they hear my story. I do. I know that most of them, for the most part, mean well.
I also understand people have experienced loss, and on whatever level, that brings them a bit closer to knowing how I feel. Even closer still, I understand that people have lost their spouses just as I have.
There’s a difference between empathizing, however, and comparing. What I won’t understand is people’s need to compare.
Someone’s pet dying was just as hard on them as me losing my wife. Someone losing their grandfather they hardly ever spoke to supposedly carrying the same weight as my wife who I sat and watched take her last breath. Someone losing their childhood friend, or a sibling, or...insert anything, the list is endless.
In my head, I make attempts to rationalize their meaning and why they’d feel it was on the same scale and sometimes I can get my head to wrap around it. 
The one comparison that irks me the most out of all of them, however, when being stacked up against the love of my life: divorce.
I had someone close to me, not but a few days following Linzi’s death, say to me, “I feel like my pain is so much worse because I have to live with this rejection and watch this person live on and be happy without me, whereas what you had was beautiful, ya know?”


No. Just no. I was still in shock from having just lost my wife that I didn’t utter anything in response. I didn’t say anything...but I was infuriated.

The one thought that pervaded my mind was “You should be happy you’re out of a terrible marriage. I just lost the greatest thing that ever happened to me.”
A divorce isn’t some shining example to me of what love should be. It’s a failed experiment. An attempt at something that might’ve once been there but never sustained, as I believe love, true love, should.
They are marriage vows to which were verbally agreed but never fully committed nor carried out to completion. There wasn’t love “for better or for worse.” There was no “til death do us part.” There was a try at those words, however good or bad, that never fully materialized and then ended.
Sadly, even some marriages aren’t marriages, but divorces are definitive. They are the nail in the coffin of what was lacking in a relationship. The realization of something that wasn’t working. Yet another name to a list of past relationships that didn’t work out for whatever reason because it just wasn’t meant to be.
What I had was real...and it's gone now. Ripped from me against either of our wills.  Even if someone new comes along, they won't erase that. That love will always linger and I will always be reminded of the woman who had my heart and took a piece of it with her, leaving a scar behind which I'm not even sure how I will respond emotionally when I look at or run my fingertips across it. It's not something I'll ever say good riddance to, because the hurt I feel was never brought on by the one I gave that love to. The hurt I feel is the emptiness left in wake by her existence slipping from me in a hospital room. The hurt I feel is love enduring as it was intended to. The aching in my soul, not for an idea of what could be, but the reality of what was.
So when you compare your divorce to the love I carried out unconditionally for my wife, whom I loved dearly to the very bitter end, it’s a slap in the face to me personally and to the memory of what we shared. In no world does the potential of what you had with your now ex-spouse stack up to the reality of what was mine. Not in my head anyways.
We do not have memberships to the same club. I do not wish you, or anyone, to be a member of this one.
Rejection stings. And sometimes they can be devastating. Divorces typically aren’t pretty. Whatever you define them to be, the thing that they most certainly are love.
So please. Stop comparing it to mine.

Showing 10 reactions

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  • commented 2017-11-13 07:27:47 -0800
    Well said Gabe. I think we are all better off not trying to compare. I remember someone who’d been through divorce saying they envied me a few months after he died – it was the oddest thing I’d ever heard.

    Looking back, I know what they meant… In a way, I think they meant they envied that my love story was still beautiful, still devoted and pure. That part, I do get. Of course they envy that. Because in that one way, widowed people who were happy and in love will always have the purity of that love, and divorced people have to grapple with the dissolving of that. They have to grapple with a failure of love, a true ending of the love itself. It is the one thing we do not lose when we become widowed, the purity of our love to one another to the end, and that I think is what makes them feel their loss is worse. It’s not worse, of course, nor do I believe is ours, but entirely different kinds of loss.

    Really well said.
  • commented 2017-11-02 15:50:59 -0700
    Thank you for putting into a words what so many of us who are widowed feel. At my husband’s funeral someone tried to compare my lost to that of thier cat, thank goodness for my good friend standing next to me she escorted them away from me.
  • commented 2017-10-31 10:16:18 -0700
    I lost my Mom to Alzheimers years ago. Devastatingly horrible walk to death and I was spinning. Laid with her till her last breath. I lost my youngest brother last year. His own loss a divorce from a woman who couldn’t love was partially the cause and he died alone. Wrenching for me as I always felt as the youngest in our family he deserved better and the end was so sad. But nothing is like losing the most beloved man who when he died I buried me. I cannot seem to unwire 55 years of knowing and 35 years of being married to the one person who truly cared. Truly cared. Not just because I was some relationship of sorts. Truly cared. Ripped from me and now even as smart as I am I am unable to reconstruct my life enough to give a damn.
    I go through the daily motions of what is called living. It has gotten a bit easier to do since that day January 21 2013, the day my world blew up but I am just an apparition of my former self and hardly walking among the living.
    It probably looks different to those on the outside looking in because it appears I am functioning but inside the wounds are not healing. They are gaping still. I know that his essence is still pulling at me to join him. I look forward to it when the natural progression of what the stress of loss is doing to me and will finally allow my escape. It is happening. I am watching it take place in my body which is programmed to withstand only so much stress. Its ok. I am looking forward to my release because there is one energy that continues to pull at me from another dimension. I am ready. I desire nothing more here. And its ok. No one can understand it unless they have walked down that path of love, true love lost.
  • commented 2017-10-30 21:40:40 -0700
    Thank you for this blog entry. I’ve recently ‘unfriended’ my sister on Facebook because she kept insisting that her 30 year marriage ending in divorce was worse than my husband of 25 years dying suddenly from an undiagnosed Pulmonary Embolism. It’s been 5 years since my husband died and I’ve only been on a few dates while she was only divorced for a week when she began a relationship with a man who she thinks now is an alcoholic.

    Becoming a widow at age 50 with two teen daughters was certainly not my choice. It was not in our plan.

    I don’t care what anyone else says – divorce is a choice (even if it is only one sided). Death is not.

    Leslie In Little Rock
  • commented 2017-10-30 09:35:42 -0700
    Please don’t diminish the loss of a sibling…I lost my younger brother to suicide and anyone that has lost a sibling they were close to or lost someone to suicide can tell you…it is absolutely devastating. The guilt and the unanswered questions and the mental torment of thinking there was something we could have done to save them, etc. He was my best friend and I would have died for him and I have missed him every single day for 23 years now. A part of me died with him. He cannot be replaced, ever. It is not a loss that is sympathized, like people recognize a disease or a car accident or anything else that wasn’t a choice. I had a coworker say to me, after my brothers first attempt, that “he wanted to die” and she felt they should send my brother to war, because her sister had joined the military and she didn’t want her sister to die, but since my brother WANTED to…

    I understand what you’re saying about losing your wife and my heart goes out to you. I understand that unless you have walked a mile in my shoes, you don’t understand what I have felt. I don’t like comparisons either.

    You saying divorce or an ex-spouse doesn’t stack up, well you haven’t been there, so you don’t know what it feels like. It is grieving a loss, and no he didn’t die, but what I thought we had sure did. I didn’t walk down the aisle believing we would end or that he would leave or that our love wasn’t real. I adored that man. I fell in love at 22 years old and gave him 20 years of my life and 2 children. He was the love of my life and my love was real. I would have died for him, I loved him that much. I had a long way to fall and it hurt like hell. He chipped away at me and continued to try to destroy me for years after he left me.

    What I didn’t know until years after our divorce, was that I was raised by a narcissistic father and therefore married a narcissist, so I never stood a chance at keeping him happy. I tried, God knows I tried. I have never loved someone so much and my hopes & dreams were crushed and our family torn apart and it was NOT my choice. You were lucky and blessed to have found true love and I’m sorry it ended the way it did. But please don’t diminish what I had just because I wasn’t as lucky to have had true love, like you. I fell for the wrong man, I paid dearly for that choice and so have my children. But did I not grieve the loss? Yes I did.

    By comparing your loss to the comparisons others have compared yours to is the same thing…but I understand what you’re saying, I really do. My sister has lost pets, her beloved dogs she rescues and she swears they are like family, so I’m sure she understands what people are saying about pets, but since I don’t have a pet, I don’t know how that feels, and in my world losing family is worse. I’m losing my Mother to Alzheimer’s, so now I’m understanding how that feels. It sucks and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. My Mother has forgotten that she lost a son and that she has been married for 53 years and that she has 7 children and her youngest is in prison and will probably not get to see her before she dies. She will eventually forget me.

    I wouldn’t wish a divorce on anyone. I wouldn’t wish the loss of a sibling on anyone. I wouldn’t wish the loss of anyone to suicide. I wouldn’t wish the loss of anyone to a car accident, or cancer, or Alzheimer’s, etc. Any loss is traumatic and devastating and one of the most painful things we will ever go thru. We are united in loss, no matter who loved who more and no matter how we lost them.
  • commented 2017-10-29 14:37:39 -0700
    Yes, there are many types of losses. As stated many times, loss of spouse (with a death) is not truly understood until you experience it. I too was ignorant of the depth of pain one feels until he died. Since then, both my parents have died, as well as bro in law, who was my main support person (and I his upon his brothers death). Three more significant persons have also died….each loss takes me back to all the others, and I can’t escape this twister of grief I’ve been in for 7 years now. In no way would I equate any of those deaths to a loss as in a divorce, just can’t make the comparison. The clubs are not and never will be the same.
  • commented 2017-10-29 06:43:14 -0700
    I want to say that I 100 percent agree with you. There is absolutely no comparison to our losses and their divorces.
    But as a relatively young widow, 54 at the time, those around me, who all still had their spouses, didn’t know what to do with me. I ended up meeting a newly divorced woman who became a wonderful supportive friend. We both had suffered losses and were grieving, but obviously differently. The important thing was that she never compared, never started a sentence with “at least you had”…. But we have a lot in common, fumbling our way around running households on our own, money issues, lonely Saturday nights, etc.
    The big thing here is that she was respectful and didn’t compare, which is your point.
  • commented 2017-10-28 19:34:49 -0700
    Beautifully put, thank you for sharing your thoughts. Having been through divorce years ago and now having to live with the grief of losing my one, true love-i cannot even begin to compare the pain. People see me and think I’m ok, what they don’t see is the heartache I feel literally every waking minute. The only thing that keeps me “keeping on” is my desire to make my beloved proud of me and carry on his legacy of making a difference in this world. For him, i will do what i can to ease a small bit of someone else’s pain.
  • commented 2017-10-28 18:26:17 -0700
    I am a widow. The one thing I have learned through this and lossing my daughter just a few years later is loss of a loved one is different for each loss. And most importantly for those of us that grieve there will always be well meaning people who say horrible, hurtful things. A very smart person reminded me that we must give each other grace. I assume that the person saying something like divorce is worse.. does not understand the depth of pain. The mind numbing changes we will eventually have to walk ourselves through when we can’t even breathe. They don’t understand, not that they don’t care. I say a bit of a prayer for those that are ignorant of the pain we feel. And remember that I was once blissfully unaware of what it felt like to live out our vow, until death do us part.
  • commented 2017-10-28 12:53:59 -0700
    Today is my husband’s birthday. I’ve invited my stepson (his son) and his 2 children to come and celebrate together. My plan is to make an ugly cake with them, enjoy being together remembering my husband, his father and their grampa. He would have been 74 today. Happy Birthday, Bob. He isn’t here. He never will be again. All we have is the love , the memories, the stuff of his life. If this had been a divorce, at least his son and grandchildren would have him physically here to honor and celebrate together.
    And please, don’t treat me like you have your ex-wife. Don’t slew your anger over your broken marriage at me. Don’t disrespect me if I don’t settle my late husband’s Estate (which is mine, too) in a span of time that meets your selfish needs, wants and desires. If I don’t have the cash, I can’t give it to you. And don’t even go there with the fact that my late husband (of 33 years) earned more money over the years of our marriage, which you seem to think entitles you to a large share of his cash and retirement. It’s community property for us, not you. You don’t inherit half because you came from his sperm. Don’t call me a liar—that my estate attorney and my financial advisor and I are working to find a way to cheat you out of what your father bequeathed to you in his Will. Even if I don’t like your father’s choice, I respect and honor his wishes. I’ve never lied to you. I’ve always respected you. I don’t anymore. You (and your equally selfish, self-centered sister) pushed me and my loyalty to you to the point where I no longer give a damn. I’ve kept my honesty, my integrity, intact, unlike you and your sister. Words DO hurt. So, no, your divorce is not like the death of my spouse, my husband. Don’t even dare to compare the two. Had you arrived home that fateful day to find your spouse dead on the couch—absolutely unexpectedly—your attempts at CPR futile, yet you kept on pumping because you would not give up.
    So, YES. I like this post. It came on a day that I’m celebrating what would have been his 74th birthday and I will bake that ugly cake with our grandchildren; his son will be here, but I really don’t give a damn.