Divorce Is Not the Same Thing as a 'Death in the Family'

Danica McKellarDanica McKellar's divorce is an incredibly sad thing. It's a family tragedy, if you will. It's many, many things, most of which are sad. But it's also something she can get through, something she can recover from, and something she will get past if she does it right. Death is none of those things. So when McKellar, who played Winnie Cooper in the iconic series Wonder Years, talks about it being like a "death in the family," it does raise some interesting issues.

How much is divorce like a death?

As someone who has been through a death (but not a divorce), I can't say I completely understand. I know that divorce is painful as I have seen many people go through one. But a death? I am less sure how I feel about that.


Look, pain is pain. And the pain Olympics isn't a sporting event I would choose to attend. I understand McKellar is under great stress and my heart goes out to her and all people who divorce with young children. But losing someone to death? It's forever.

That is the big difference. Sure, every divorce is different and some are uglier and more painful than others. The same is true of death. But when you get into whose pain is worse or comparing pain, you do end up in a bad situation.

Divorce is divorce and death is death. Both are painful and both cause grief, but they aren't the same thing.

When a person divorces and they do it amicably, it's something that can be traversed. A person can "get through" the pain of a divorce, remarry, and get on with their lives. Losing someone is forever.

Maybe to the people around you, divorce is like a death in the family. But the grief that comes from divorce, while in the moment may seem acute and awful, isn't the same as the grief that comes from death. That never ends. Trust me, I am here 18 years after losing my mom and there are days it hurts as badly as the day it happened.

Obviously every death and every divorce is different and every person's pain tolerance is different, too. But a friend of mine who has been through both a messy divorce and losing her mother says the pain isn't even comparable. The pain of the death is far more acute.

My heart goes out to Danica, but as long as she does her divorce right, she will get through it and her child will be OK and he will have both his parents. People who lose someone? They aren't that lucky.

Do you think divorce is like death?


Photo via Splashnews

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