• Judgementalism About Grief – Matt Was Her Boyfriend Not Her Husband – Only The Grief of Married Mourners Counts, Apparently

Judgementalism About Grief – Matt Was Her Boyfriend Not Her Husband – Only The Grief of Married Mourners Counts, Apparently

I do wish that grief over death of a loved one was blogged about more on abuse survival blogs, because in addition to being hideous at dealing with sexually or spiritually abusive pastors, churches (and Christians generally) are terrible at empathizing with the person who is in mourning.

A woman (whose name is Megan Devine) wrote an essay on Washington Post (of which I am unable to read in full because I used up my three free articles per month limit) where she described her experience after her boyfriend, Matthew Potvin, died. Matt died at age 39 from having drowned in a river.

You can also read about this here:

Swimmer killed in river’s current

Maine man gets swept away by river, dies – 2009

Matthew J. Potvin Obituary

Apparently, based upon reactions to this woman’s essay that appear on the Yahoo! news summary of it, she was saying that nobody took her grief seriously because Matt was “only” her boyfriend and not a husband.

Here’s a link to that story on Yahoo:

Her partner drowned at 39. She learned that for the young and unmarried, death has no playbook. 

Most of the responses to the woman’s essay were compassionate or understanding, but not all.

I’m not sure of everyone’s religious views who left comments under the Yahoo article on the page.

I can say I would expect more out of Christians than Non-Christians, since the Bible tells Christians to “weep with those who weep.” But Christians are pretty bad at comforting someone who is in grief.

After my mother died, and I went to people, mostly Christians, for emotional support, all I got was shamed, victim-blamed, had my pain dismissed, and still yet other Christians gave me platitudes. All of that made the pain worse.

I see some of that at play by various jackasses leaving comments below this woman’s story.

Here are some of the totally insensitive responses below the Yahoo news summary of the WaPo article– remember, this is below the article about the death of this woman’s boyfriend, and how that death affected her:

by Abuella

Commitment is what your relationship lacked. That’s why nobody took it seriously.
~~~~~

by Christi

You [Megan] did not live with him [Matt].

You did not have children with him. You did not share financial responsibilities with him.

He was so uncommitted that his family didn’t even know you existed.

The loss of a boyfriend is profound and heartbreaking, but still not the same as the loss of a spouse. You did not have to suddenly discover how to support yourself.

You did not have to comfort your orphaned child.

You did not have to uproot because your home is now out of your solo budget. You did not have to pay for a funeral.

It is truly sad that your boyfriend died (and while you were on an outing to boot). I’m sure it is difficult. But it is not the same as being widowed.
~~~~~

So, that’s basically a great big EFF YOU to Megan from “Christi” all because Megan wasn’t married to Matt and didn’t have any children with Matt.

Because only the pain and grief of a married mother matters. Everybody else: your pain over the loss of your loved one is nothing (according to Christi).

Here is a similar comment by “A,” which reads quite similar to Christi’s, making me wonder if it’s the same person under another name:

comment by A:

I agree that having your boyfriend of 5 years die could be incredibly difficult.

It is not however the same as a spouse dying, you didn’t live with the person, you didn’t have a bunch of financial and legal headaches to focus on.

You weren’t the one who had to plan the service, make the calls. You didn’t plan the next 50 years of your life to be with this person and have it suddenly change.

If you wanted to be more than the girlfriend in his death than you should have put priority into being more than the girlfriend during his life.

Everything you’re describing is marriage, his family didn’t even know you existed why would they understand your grief?

If you want the world and those around you to view you as the most important person to one and other that’s why you take those vows.

You can’t dismiss marriage as nothing or not important only to be surprised no one thought you were serious with each other. Hopefully this horrible incident showed you how important marriage and real commitment is.
~~~~~

by Bryan:

Nicely written, however you forgot the moral of the story.

If your in love and committed to your partner.. Get married!

“Otherwise your just shacking up with some dude!” Marriage shows a higher level of commitment.
~~~~~

Several people left comments for Bryan, including:

by Jacqui:

If Bryan had READ the article, he would KNOW it stated “they didn’t even live together” … not sure what his definition of “shacking up” is, but it isn’t so in this case.

They were COMMITTED adults in a 3 yr relationship that had not moved to marriage yet, but no less a love story ending in tragedy. My take on it after READING the entire article.
~~~~~

by Mike:

Actually, to get married shows a lower level of commitment. The institution of marriage (as currently presented) just raises the social and financial costs of decoupling.

When you and yours haven’t asked the government for permission to unite and instead do it on your own as people desiring to share life together, both parties each day make a conscious decision to remain together because the alternative doesn’t have a number of bureaucratic hoops to jump through.

That decision is eroded when the cost of the alternative (to split) is raised to an extent that it is easier to remain, regardless of the things that give you cause to reconsider.

You’re not more committed, you’re less free to act in a self-actualized manner, which kind of means you get married because you’re afraid you’ll leave if left to your own devices.
~~~~~

Tammy was not responding to Bryan, but she sounds like a total bitch:

by Tammy:

Sorry but marriage is more than validity, if he [Matt] had loved you [Megan] he would marry you, there was no valid relationship, your were just someone he used for sex.

All you people who think living together is ok just remember we may have all this “new morality” but we still serve a very old God.
~~~~~

Tammy will not be winning any coverts to her faith with that sort of comment. She’s only preaching to the choir.

More comments that reads as insensitive, because they are quite victim blaming:

comment by T

Matt was strong, fit, healthy, and very disrespectful of the power of Mother Nature. Flood-swollen rivers are NOT the place to thumb your nose at her.
~~~~~

by Jack M

This is the reason there are so many warning signs about everything. Why in the world was he swimming in a rain swollen river?

Show contempt or Mother Nature and she WILL spank you. COMMON SENSE should guide the way but in today’s world there is very little and is dying off as the older generation dies off.
~~~~~

by Ed:

Swimming a flood swollen river – an excellent way to kill yourself with stupidity.
~~~~~

Those commentators – such as T, Jack Me, and Ed, are assh*les, so far as I am concerned.

I probably would not attempt to go swimming or rafting in an out of control river myself, but, I’m not going to sit here under an article about the guy and judge him – one reason of a few is that Megan, his fiance, might skim the comments, and I doubt those cavalier comments would make her feel any better.

(About the only class of people I don’t feel sorry for who get killed or injured in accidents are the sorts who do things like try to pet tigers, lions, and polar bears in zoos.

Such as the lady several years ago who climbed over several barriers and fences at a zoo to get a close-up photo of a polar bear, the bear reached through the bars, and ripped one of her arms off. Getting that close to a wild animal to pet it or snap its photo is really unwise.)

Other comments at that page about Megan’s loss of Matt:

by Amy

Marriage is so completely overrated. I will never again make that mistake. Just because someone isn’t married, doesn’t mean they love their SO any less…
~~~~~

Slightly off topic, but I totally agree with this comment by Jae Pea:

by Jae Pea:

I HATE when Yahoo links to sources that want me to PAY to finish reading the d@mn story. STOP IT Yahoo.
~~~~~

You and me both, Jae Pea.

Back on topic, I am appalled at the lack of sensitivity and empathy shown to Megan.

It’s detestable how so many leaving comments below her story are trying to quantify Megan’s grief, to suggest that her grief cannot be as serious and deep as theirs, since they lost a spouse and she “only” lost “just” a boyfriend.

I’m sure that on one level, losing a spouse is much more difficult than losing a boyfriend or girlfriend, in that it does come with many more legal issues to deal with.

However, other than that, I think it’s a totally sleazy, heartless cheap-shot to tell this Megan person that her grief is no biggie, and “so what” and “who cares,” all because she was not in a legalized relationship (ie, marriage) with the guy?

I’m sure her heartbreak and tears were just as real and deep as anyone who’s lost a spouse.

I remember years ago when I was googling for articles or blogs about grieving, to learn how to cope with my own grief better after the death of my mother, I would sometimes see similar attitudes from grieving parents.

I’d occasionally read comments by people saying things like,

“I lost my mother, my mother died at age 71, but the loss of my son when he was only four years old was so much more painful. Losing a child is SO MUCH MORE PAINFUL than losing a parent, no matter what anyone says.”

I’d often see people commenting on how the deaths of infants or children was supposedly so much more sad than the deaths of grown adults – and I sat there at my computer monitor taking this in, feeling shock.

No, the loss of a child is not more sad or traumatic than the loss of a parent.

The death of a child is not more sad than the loss of a grown adult.

Maybe in your world you experienced the death of your son or daughter as being more of a tragedy, or as more heartbreaking, than the death of some adult family member of yours, but don’t you dare to speak as if this is a truism for everyone!

I’ve never had a kid. But my mother, who died several years ago – she was my confidant and my best friend – enduring her death  was one of the most painful experiences of my life. And my mother was over the age of 55 – she was not an infant or a kid, but that did not make her death any less painful to deal with for me.

Having to accept my mother’s death was not only difficult, but then the part where I’ve had to move on without my best friend was even more difficult.

I can no longer talk to her when I’m lonely, just wanting to laugh, or when I’m depressed, or having anxiety and could use a sympathetic ear.

It’s insulting and infuriating to me to see so many grieving parents online dismiss the loss that people like me experience (loss of an adult loved one) as being “no big deal” compared to the loss of an infant, a child, teen, or college-aged child.

It’s mind boggling to me that people out there try to play the “Pain Olympics” concerning death and say they have it worse than you, then they dismiss your pain as being nothing because your loss (of your loved one) is not as big a deal as their loss (of their loved one), in their opinion. It is repulsive that people do this.

You’d think in one of the most painful times in your life – and I think many would agree that the death of a closed loved one would count as one of THE most painful event anyone could endure – that others would show a lot more sensitivity, and refrain from victim-blaming the mourner or the deceased, but the creeps and jerks really comes out of the woodwork to make or leave nasty comments on blogs or to the mourner’s face directly..

Christians could be of great benefit to those in grief, but it’s a place most are too ignorant, selfish, or lazy to enter into.


More:

Single People Understand Marriage Better than Married People Understand Singleness

Grief Support Gone Wrong: When You’re Beyond Second Chances – from WYG site

It’s Not Self Pity When It’s Happening To You – Re: Classifying Other People’s Life’s Pain Derogatorily as “Self Pity”

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