Whose Pain is Worse – Using Empathy to Heal

Refrain from comparing grief stories - it doesn't really matter

Comparing is a sure fire way to destroy relationships and increase unecessary anxiety, guilt, and anger.  You are unique and so is your journey.  No two people feel and process hurt, pain and the multitude of emotions from grief the same way.  Why compare?

Using empathy, self-awareness, and self-expression (all of which are skills of emotional intelligence) will assist you in the healing process.  It will help drive connection with others.

This poem came into my life shortly after my husband died. I was part of a support group with other people who had also lost a spouse and shared this poem. It has served as a tremendous reminder to practice empathy and compassion versus comparison or competition.

My wishes are for you the reader to gain comfort, hope and permission to stop comparing and embrace your own.

Love and JOY,
EQ Coach/Mentor

Whose pain is worse?
I lost my husband after only 15 months; he lost his wife after 45 years.
He lived his dreams and now he has a lifetime of memories;
I did not have time to make my dreams come true and the memories are far too few.
And yet…I am still young and independent and will one day dream again;
He is older now and was dependent on her and his nightmare of loneliness has just begun.
Who will take care of him now?

Whose pain is worse?
My husband and I did not have time to start a family; she was left with three sons.
Her husband lives on in the face of his children; mine only lives on in my heart.
She has people with whom she can share memories; I am all alone.
And yet…I have time to grieve for myself and to heal;
She must now support her sons, both physically and emotionally.
When will she have time to grieve?

Whose pain is worse?
My husband was taken from me without warning; she knew for nine months that her son was dying.
She had the opportunity for one last hug, one last kiss, one last “goodbye”;
I never had the chance for a final word, a final embrace, a final “I love you.”
And yet… I know my husband did not suffer long and lived the life he wanted;
But she watched her once strong, active son weaken and wither
As he was robbed of his strength, hopes, and dreams.
How does she feel now?

Whose pain is worse?
I was there when my husband died; she was on vacation when her father died.
She did not have to hear the sirens; she did not see what I saw;
She did not stand by helplessly as doctors struggled to bring him back to life.
And yet…I know I did what I could to save my husband and I was with him at the end;
She doesn’t know how long her father suffered alone or if he cried out her name
Or if things would have been different if she was home.
How much does she blame herself?

Whose pain is worse?
My husband died; her husband walked out on her.
She still has a chance for reconciliation and the hope she will be reunited with him;
There is no chance for me to see my husband again or to hear him again or to hold him again.

And yet…I know when my husband died he truly loved me with all his heart;
She must deal with rejection and emptiness.
How will she feel if she sees him again?

Whose pain is worse?
To me, mine is worse; to you, yours is worse.
But why do we compare?
I’m hurting and so are you.
Please allow me to have my pain and I will allow you to have yours.
Let me voice my anger and you can voice yours.
Let me release my guilt and you can release yours.
Let me cry on your shoulder and you can cry on mine.
Let me have my grief and I will let you have yours
And then, one day, let us smile and hug and thank each other for being there.

Whose pain is worse?
Does it really matter?

Whose Pain is Worse?  By Mary Ann Golomb Thanatos, Fall 1994