This post got me thinking about death and divorce. A widow feels insulted that divorced friends are comparing her loss to theirs. It seems wrong to the widow. The divorcee often leaves the relationship voluntarily. Their former spouse is still alive, able to live his/her life, be a parent to their children. How can the losses be on the same magnitude?
Well, I feel I can comment on the issue, since in the last 5 years I lost the two most important people in my life. My first husband to drug abuse and my mother to lymphoma. The difference is, my ex is still alive (I think). My divorce was a death to me in every other way. The person I married was replaced by someone else entirely- someone with whom I could not continue living with any degree of physical or emotional safety. The divorce was merely a symptom. He was lost to me, and to himself.
The experiences were similar. A lifelong agnostic, I fervently prayed for a cure for both my mother and my husband. But there was nothing I could do in either case to save them. I was helpless, and I lost them both in the end.
I sometimes wished during the firestorm of the last months of that marriage that my ex were dead. This might sound like blasphemy to a surviving spouse. But I felt at least if he were dead, I could have grieved the loss of our relationship with remembering happy memories, rather than the arguments, the lies and the pain. But later, I felt differently, and today I’m grateful that he is alive, and hope that he is happy and at peace.
One divorce may be tidy and amicable while another leaves the family shattered. One death may devastate while another comes as a relief. Every loss is unique, yet the fact that we, as humans, are here on earth, united in our suffering and trying to find our way in the world can bring us together. But only if we let it.