In 2013, I went through what I call an unwanted divorce; meaning, I didn’t want the deception, abuse, and serial infidelity that ultimately caused my marriage to become irreparable.
Thinking back to those early days of my despair, one of my most supportive friends was a woman who knew the pain of the death of a husband as well as divorce. She was the first one to tell me that divorce is like a death, but your husband is still living. We talked about our grief. She shared with me how long I could expect my mourning to last. And she let me know that although our circumstances were different in some ways, we had a lot of similarities as well.
Because of my friend’s great compassion, I didn’t realize until meeting and talking to other widows that there is often an unspoken ranking between widows and those who have been divorced. I’ve felt my grief was devalued because I didn’t (and couldn’t) know the pain of death. And I wonder if widows have often felt frustrated when a divorced woman tries to compare stories.
Yes, I’ve never experienced the death of a husband. Maybe I will never know what that’s like. And I would never want to minimize the feelings anyone else is experiencing, especially after the loss of a beloved spouse, by saying we are the same or to make it a competition about who’s pain is worse.
The point of this article is to bring widows and divorced women together with an understanding compassion, rather than keep dividing us by our unique set of circumstances.
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