A good friend of mine asked me this question: “Why do people react to death and divorce differently even though they both involve great loss?” I confess that I did not have an answer at that time.
They went on to share that in death, there is a gentle, deep sympathy. Sympathy that lingers, even as the many days go by. A sympathy almost equal to a parent consoling a child who just skinned their knee. Sympathy that focuses on how much the survivor is hurting. Unbounding sympathy out of compassionate love. Sympathy that is gentle, comforting and non-judgmental.
Divorce, on the other hand is reacted to much differently. Others fill it with anger and quick judgment. There is no lingering, unbounding sympathy. You are quickly judged as being the instigator or victim. People’s conversations don’t revolve around how you are but rather focus on creating the story of how this all happened. Revisiting the past becomes more important than hugging the person who is going through all of this.
The widow or widower has it better yet both situations involve great loss. For all parties. Yet they are never viewed or treated the same way.
I wish that I could better explain why this is so but I can’t. The best that I could do is share this person’s observations hoping that each of us will grow from this reflection and better help someone who is hurting, especially when they get divorced. Regardless of whether the many stories describe someone as either instigator or victim.
For together with confronting death, human loss is never easy. Especially when it is final. For those who remain are human and in need. With hearts hurt in deep pain & confusion.
Hoping that someone will appear with a gentle love and a simple hug to make our day better regardless of the type of loss that we are forced to face.
May we be the first to understand this and act accordingly.