“A Dog Is Not The Same As A Husband”: Woman Loses Patience With Her Sister For Nonstop Comparisons Of Their Losses
Grief can be an overwhelming emotion, and in times of grief, we look to our friends or loved ones for support. One woman, however, complained to the AITA subreddit that when she and her sister grieved for two very different losses together, she felt that her grief had been undermined. Her sister had lost her dog, while the author of the post had lost her husband and the father of her children.
Her post sparked a surprisingly open, honest, deep and mature conversation on the nature of grief and when, if ever, we can compare our grieving processes. Follow this emotional journey below, because whether or not you’ve ever lost someone (or something) close to you, this post has something meaningful for everyone.
It’s natural for people to reach out for support when grieving and healing. However, we may not always get the support we were expecting
Image credits: Tiago Bandeira (not the actual photo)
Two sisters were experiencing the loss of loved ones at the same time, but one got tired of comparing their grief
Image credits: Tima Miroshnichenko (not the actual photo)
Image credits: Pixabay (not the actual photo)
Image credits: mybsker
The loss of a spouse when you’ve already started a family together can be an earth-shattering loss. As the author of the post, u/smybsker, writes, “It’s hard, I’m still grieving and I miss him everyday. I have to take medication for depression and anxiety to help me get through the day.”
Only a few weeks later, her sister had to put her dog down due to health issues. “She was very upset, which is understandable,” wrote u/smybsker. Interestingly, this part of the story already highlighted a key difference in how our society approaches human and animal mortality. The euthanization of companion animals is widely seen as an acceptable practice to ease our beloved pets’ suffering at the end of their lives or when facing insurmountable health issues.The issue of human euthanasia is far more controversial.
Image credits: Julia Taubitz (not the actual photo)
The grief of losing a pet can be difficult to understand for those of us without pets, but it can be a very real presence for those who have them According to The Clinician’s Guide To Treating Companion Animal Issues, “Pets have become important family members; many live inside the home and provide important daily support and unconditional love throughout each day. When a special companion animal dies, some people suffer prolonged grieving that is magnified by being disenfranchised, not acknowledged and recognized.”
The author of our story empathized with her sister’s grief for her pet, but took issue when her sister’s grief began to encroach on hers and when she began to compare their grief and suffering. “Now, she’s comparing our losses. 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.”
Image credits: Rae Angela (not the actual photo)
Grief can cause extraordinary anxiety and stress, and the author acknowledges this in her story. Cruse, a bereavement support organization, writes that the anxiety caused by grief can, among many other things, make us feel irritable and put us on edge. While the author concedes that she may have made a mistake in her response to her sister, we must also remember the extraordinary grief she was (and, in all likelihood, probably still is) processing.
This angered the author’s sister, which is understandable, and which is probably the reason why she posted on the AITA subreddit in the first place. The subreddit is, after all, a useful sounding board for getting a broader array of opinions and insights on your own actions.
As readers pointed out aspects of the woman’s relationship with her sister, she opened up more about her feelings
Most commenters supported the woman’s plight, recognizing the differences between her situation and her sister’s
While commenters’ opinions differed on many aspects of this situation, the conversation tended to be quite mature and understanding. For all the nastiness that can fly back and forth online, it was refreshing to see such an emotionally sensitive debate unfold. Some people agreed that it was totally unfair to compare the loss of a dog with the loss of a husband. Others saw no issue with this, instead emphasizing that the problem was a question of respecting one another’s grieving processes and boundaries.
What most people seemed to agree upon was that the author’s sister shouldn’t have imposed her grieving rituals and processes on her. The sister shouldn’t have imposed, while the author should’ve set clearer boundaries for how they each expected to grieve their losses.
Naturally, however, we’re interested in hearing what our readers think about this discussion of grief. Was the author wrong to push back against her sister the way that she did, or did she do the right thing by reminding her sister that not all tragedies were created equal?