I was thinking about Amanda's post last week on Widow's Voice comparing divorce to death and how perturbed it made me what some people have the nerve to say (you can read it HERE). I've been lucky that no one has been dumb enough to try to compare the two to my face....or I should say, they've been lucky enough.
Not even my husband, who has been through one of the most painful divorces I know of, tries to compare the two. Just as I don't ever try to play the widow card to trump the hurt and pain that he's gone through. We know they're different and both painful in their own right.
But in my own personal experience, I have recently really noticed the difference that those tragic experiences have played out for our children. I ache every time I realize that Jeremy is missing out on things in his childrens' lives and there is nothing that will ever fill that void. But there is one thing I'm always certain of: Jeremy was an incredible daddy and his children will never doubt the love he had for them. Now that our oldest girls have gotten to a place where they realize their biological mother is not in the picture because of her own choice, that is a much harder topic to trudge through. The questions of why dad was the one who did the things that moms were supposed to when they were little are hard to answer. Knowing that we look for opportunities to honor Jeremy and talk about him in our household is a stark contrast to the care and sensitivity we take to not expose the pain and hurt the runs deep (and unfortunately current) caused by a mentally and physically unhealthy person who wants other people to be as unhappy as she is. I never thought the ripples and scars left by that tragedy could be as complicated to heal as my own.
How could you choose a more painful experience between watching a child that has night terrors about their parents leaving them or a child who has a hard time trusting people because they don't feel safe with the person who is supposed to care for them the most? A child who asks why daddy had to die or a child that ask wonders if it was their fault that their mom never did their hair or bathed them and would leave for days at a time? Which is worse? The truth is, they both are and comparing the two only makes it more painful.
What is boils down to is that it's ultimately not about divorce vs. death, but it's about love. While I wouldn't wish a death of a spouse on anyone, I can say that I am thankful for the love that Jeremy gave me, and I would NEVER trade it, even if I had known I would lose him so soon. And while I certainly would never wish a divorce on anyone, I know that divorced parents are not DEAD parents. But to feel a parent choose to leave is a painful trail in and of itself. I get frustrated in either situation by people who abuse these experiences to hurt others, or put children in the middle of it. In my book, that's unacceptable. To feel unconditional love is to be given wings in a very heaven laden world. Love matters, and when you get to experience it, no matter how short of time you have it for, it changes you and the way you see the world. It makes the harder parts easier to walk through. It make life worth living.
At the end of the day, we love our way through grief and divorce when our children struggle, because love is bigger than both, and the only thing that gives us the strength to keep going. We might not always have the right answers, but we are sure they cannot be out loved.
In the end, love wins.