widowed is not the same as being divorced

Ever had a divorced person say to you, “I know just how you feel. When my marriage broke up, it felt just like a death had happened.”?

Although usually well-meaning, these sorts of remarks can really tick you off!

The assumption that surviving divorce and death present similar traumas is certainly understandable. The “death” of a marriage can bring about intense emotional pain and grief. Indeed, a mourning process usually occurs in many divorces in which each partner grieves for a multitude of losses, from emotional to financial.

However, what some people have trouble understanding is the fact that while divorce, however painful, is basically a choice, death is not.

In a divorce situation, you may wish your ex-spouse was no longer around, but he or she is, in reality, somewhere out there. Still alive.

Death, as we say, is final.


Anonymous said...

I know what you mean. I was widowed in May, and my boss was discussing my performance with me. He didn't understand why I was having difficulty working with my new "unsympathetic" supervisor. She had told me that she thinks she can "fix" me, and proceeded to tell me she'd been divorced a few times. He defended her by saying that for some, divorce is as traumatic as the death of a spouse, especially if the one suffering the distress didn't want the divorce. Um, divorced a few times, I'm assuming she's the problem. I felt so betrayed after hearing that... I loved my husband emensely, we had plans for children, our future. He died in combat in Afghanistan. I would never be so ignorant to tell someone, "It's as traumatic as divorce."

Laurie and Ruth said...

It's tough enough having to function at work without having to endure such insenitivity and lack of support!

We never cease to be amazed at the clueless remarks that sometimes come from suppossedly well-meaning people.

We really understand how painful this situation must have been and appreciate your having shared your experience and reactions with us.

Please take care and stay in touch.

Anonymous said...

What if someone did not want the divorce to happen...devasted. Is it not the same as losing someone who was special to you? Just saying.

Prussia said...

I have a girlfriend who broke up with her long term boyfriend but kept friends with him for ages after and I have lost count of the number of times she uses the term single for us both and makes stupid comments.
Like the one about dating new people and how hard it would be to discuss her past, ie a break up. Try bringing up the fact your partner died! Thats a bit of a conversation ender and quite different.
I would love to have broken up with my partner and stayed friends, I never got that luxury of having him my life still.
Divorce and break up are devastating but radically different.

Laruie and Ruth said...

We agree. While both experiences are painful,death,unlike divorce, is FINAL.

Thanks for your comment, Prussia!

Anonymous said...

I think the point is that upon losing a spouse, you can never hear their voice again. You envision them walking through the door and that will never happen again.
Normally with a divorce, you don't want to engage with the former spouse. It's different.

Unknown said...

Also, one of the most well-intentioned but obviously pointless questions; "How are you?"

Laurie and Ruth said...

Thank you for your thoughtful comments.