I know this may ruffle some feathers out there, but if feel it needs to be discussed. What I see as a common theme in many of my widow support groups is the comparison thing. It is like the "keeping up with the Jones's" of grief. I know that it is the non bereaved trying to comfort those of us who have lost the loves of our lives by trying to be empathetic, but trust me when I say it is SOOOO very different. Yes, loss is loss, but to those of us who have lost a spouse, it feels less like empathy and more like the trivialization of the worst thing that has ever happened to us.
I do have a fairly personal angle that I can bring to this. I have now experienced the loss of a spouse twice, once to divorce, and once to death. My divorce was not particularly acrimonious, but I did lose a best friend.
A partner in crime.
A travel companion.
A person who, despite all of my flaws, loved me.
When it was over we didn't speak, and I nursed a broken heart for a while, but I knew, deep down, he was still out there somewhere. That maybe, someday, we would be able to see each other again. We would be able to speak again. We would be able to share a beer, share a laugh, share a wink and a smile, hell, maybe even share a bed. It's a loss, but certainly not a permanent one.
The death of B was also not particularly dramatic. He went to work, and never came home. I lost a best friend.
A cuddle buddy.
A fantastic father of two very impressionable young boys.
A person who, despite all of my flaws, loved me with his dying breath.
When it was over, I felt like someone had amputated a part of my soul. I knew, deep down that he just would never walk through the door again. No matter how hard I wished, my someday life with him wasn't going to happen. We wouldn't ever speak again. We would never again share a beer, a laugh or a bed ever again. It was most definitely a loss. A VERY permanent one.
So, to offer a small bit of advice when you are in the presence of a person who has truly lost their soulmate in that very permanent death kind of way....don't compare. Be supportive, listen, agree that it really truly sucks, and offer a comforting ear.