Losing a loved one is an irreplaceable loss that affects us all in deeply personal ways. However, is it fair to measure and compare our grief to others’? Moreover, can we equate the sorrow of losing a cherished pet to the anguish of someone losing their spouse?
An internet user recently asked, Am I a jerk for telling my sister grieving her dog is not the same as me grieving my husband? Do you agree with her?
To make a long story short, the Original Poster (OP) lost her husband only a month ago. It’s hard, she’s still grieving and she misses him every day. She has to take medication for depression and anxiety to help her get through the day.
What Happened Last Week?
Last week, OP’s sister’s dog was put down due to some health issues, and she was very upset, which is understandable. She called OP immediately and said she was the only sibling who would understand her pain.
OP Didn’t Mind
OP didn’t mind, honestly, she just wanted to comfort her since her dog meant the world to her. She held a wake for him and their whole family attended. It was a nice service.
But, Now What?
But now, she’s comparing their losses.
OP says, “She’s telling me she knows exactly what I’m going through. That she can relate to the pain of losing someone so close to you, she calls me asking if we should visit graves together. It was fine the first time, but it’s constant. She goes three times a day. It’s already difficult to go once a week for me, and she knows this. I feel like she’s not even considering my grief process.”
What Did OP Tell Her Sister?
OP told her that grieving her dog is not the same as OP grieving her husband. She’s upset and refusing to talk to OP now. OP gets it, it was uncalled for really.
But OP’s loss is new to her too, and she thinks she just got frustrated with how different they’re dealing with their losses. OP feels like her sister should understand where she’s coming from too.
What Does OP Think?
OP thinks, “A dog is not the same as a husband. A dog can’t love you back like a husband can. A dog can’t read to your children like a husband can. A dog can’t make soup when you’re ill like a husband can. It’s really hard for me right now to discern when I’m being condescending or not.”
What Else Does She Say
“I don’t know if it’s a side effect of my medication or if the empathetic part of my brain has shut down. But I really am getting tired of her comparing our pain when she lost her dog, and I lost my world. At the very least, she still has her husband.”
OP has two young children at home, processing a loss unimaginable to most kids their age. And she’s trying to whisk OP away to graveyards to visit her dog.
“Am I a jerk?”, asks OP.
You Don’t Compare Grief
“Not the jerk. I will not be too mean to your sister, but she is a jerk here. Not just because dogs live shorter lives than humans, so it is more expected, not just that, no matter how much we love animals, humans > other animals, but also because you can’t necessarily compare grief in the first place.
Some people are comforted by sharing similar experiences; some find it pushy, and if you start doing that and the other person doesn’t like it, you stop.”
Losing A Human Is Different From Losing A Pet
“She lost a dog whilst she cared for her pet. It was just that, a pet.
Losing a dog doesn’t leave you worrying about paying the mortgage, how to care for your children etc. Yes, she has grief but people need to stop comparing animals with humans.”
Anyone Could Be Easily Frustrated
“Your sister is entitled to her grief. However, she should absolutely not be comparing it to the loss of your husband. I would be frustrated if I was in your situation.” Said one.
“I’d be frustrated too, especially if the sister and BIL were close… like shouldn’t she be grieving him too? Or at least have the decency to realize comparing the loss of a dog is not the same as losing her sister’s husband.” Another added.
A Grief Is A Grief
“Sorry, this happened to you. I don’t think anyone here benefits from measuring grief in a hierarchy. Grief is devastating and unique to everyone’s circumstances. It says a lot about you that you were able to acknowledge your sister’s grief and offer support while yours is so fresh.
It appears your sister hasn’t yet been able to see through her grief enough to recognize how yours (and your children’s) is still in full swing, which makes it fair that you had to set some kind of boundary. While downplaying her grief is not ideal, your grief deserves respect.”
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