“Losing a spouse isn’t as bad as losing a child”

By Nina Steele 

Yes it sounds pretty callous doesn’t it? This is one of the supposedly morale boosting comments that Maryanne Pope, author of ‘A Widow’s Awakening’, had to put up with, just a few weeks after losing her husband. Never mind that she had just lost the love of her life and her soul mate in a freak accident, aged just 32, for some people, losing a child was by far, a much greater loss.

Can grief ever be quantified as in my grief is greater than yours kind of way? And who is to judge the depth of one’s sorrow, except the person grieving.

There is no one size fits all when it comes to how people should deal with loss. It is all about the depth of the bond between people, and that bond differs from person to person.

There are many relationships out there in which couples are completely and utterly in love and that love never diminishes, even with the arrival of children. Likewise, we all know of the many other relationships that are held together for the sake of the children. And naturally, for many people involved in the latter, the children are far more important than the spouse.

I don’t mind if people love their children more than they do their other half. Each to their own as they say. What I object to however, is when some of these people try to convince everyone around them that the love for one’s children should supersede any other. Or they come out with statements such as “losing a spouse isn’t as bad as losing a child”. Never mind that it is not true of all couples with children, but to say it to someone who is childless, is a step too far.

As a childless person in a healthy and happy marriage, my husband means the world to me. He is my soul mate and my best friend. Yes I do understand that unless we are one of those lucky couples who end up dying together in old age, one day, one of us will have to learn to live without the other. And yes it is a frightening prospect.

Of course we human beings often underestimate our strengths and our ability to adapt to even the toughest of challenges. Whichever one of us goes first, who knows what the other one’s state of mind will be like then? Even so, the last thing any of us would want to hear when that time comes, is that the love we have for our spouse is no match for the love for a child. Thankfully, Maryanne was able to see such comments for what they are: ignorant.

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