There Are No Gold Medals in Grief

Aug 13, 2021

Have you noticed that some people think grief is an Olympic event in which they compete for the gold? Your pain isn’t as bad as my pain is the general theme, followed by an explanation as to why.


“I know how you feel, it’s just like when my parent/dog/friend died.”

“At least you can find another husband, I can’t have another child.”

“At least he died peacefully. My husband’s death was traumatic.”

The truth is that there are no gold medals in grief (or silver, or bronze). It simply is not a competition. Everyone hurts. And everyone has the worst pain they have ever experienced to date.

So, what’s with the competition? At best, I think it can be a failed attempt at expressing empathy. At worst, it’s someone simply trying to redirect the spotlight.

In my experience, widowed people are those most likely to say, “I don’t know your pain.” Ironic, isn’t it? The people who know the darkest darkness also know that grief is as unique as a fingerprint.

As for those grief competitors, “You don’t know my pain, and I don’t expect you to,” may be a helpful response.

It all hurts, and it hurts each of us differently. Instead of competing, let’s just allow each other to grieve. Let’s let the grieving person grieve and not somehow make it about us. And when we’re grieving and someone attempts to compete by mentioning their pain, we can simply not participate in the conversation.

When conversation turns to competition, remember that there are no gold medals in grief.

If you’re lacking the support you need to navigate this unwanted chapter of your life, my coaching program called Life Reconstructed can help. It is all the tools and resources I wish I had in my own journey, along with a community of people who get it. Simply click here and we’ll see if it’s a fit.

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