Death or Divorce?

I have suffered both: the deaths of both parents, and a very painful divorce. Which is worse?  


Although I miss my parents every minute of every day, I believe my divorce was and is much worse.  


My dad died suddenly. We had known he was sick, and even suspected the dreaded C word (cancer) but he worked all day, came home, had dinner, and watched TV.  All seemed very normal, except at 9 p.m., he died.


My mom battled breast cancer and won, for a while. We watched her beat the beast and be defeated by that same beast years later. Her death was not quite a shock, but nevertheless, wasn’t any easier on my sister or me.


Going on with our lives without our parents has not been easy. There are always times when you want to talk to your parent, or share news with your parent, or be hugged by your parent.  I don’t get those times any more. Their birthdays, their wedding anniversary and now the dates of their deaths are all marked upon my heart. Time surrounding any of those dates is tough. Sometimes I don’t know what is wrong with me or why I am so moody or sad, but eventually I will realize the date and it all makes sense.


But my divorce, as described by my counselor, was like a wound that starts to heal and scab over, and the scab keeps getting ripped off. Ouch! Sound bad? Sound painful?  oh you betcha.



Not everyone agrees with me, as I polled friends and family. Here are some comments I received via my Facebook poll:


Death of a loved one – no one wants them gone, ever! Can’t say that about some, actually 52% according to statistics, spouses.


Divorce is harder by far-lots of strong feelings mostly of bitterness, sadness, anger, remorse of not just 2 people-but of entire families & children that have to move on when they don’t want to & feel blindsided & lost because of the decision of 1 or 2 people. Their lives will NEVER be the same as they wanted-and as a parent to live with that NEVER leaves you. Death in my mind way easier especially if you know the person is right with God you KNOW they’re going to heaven is such a good feeling. And with death you’re left with mostly the good & loving memories of the beautiful person that graced you with their presence.


What an intriguing question. I have heard said that the loss of a spouse is harder than the loss of a child. And though divorce is different than losing your spouse to death, it is a loss…not of the person so much, but of the love you created, the choice you made to love another person who is not your flesh and blood. You create this love, that like a child, you nurture and delight in. When divorce ends that, it seems almost necessary – if not cliché – to despise that person; for to remember the love, and the loss of that love, while the source of that love is still on this plane of existence would be impalpable and seemingly never ending.

When someone dies that you mourn, you can always love them and be happy that you had them in your life. A person can cry years after the loss of a loved one and most would not question that. But, if you were to bemoan the loss of a spouse (no matter how tyrannical they may have been), you would be questioned, even though the love you created was an innocent one and what you truly are sorrowful about.


His “alive” face is a constant reminder of the bad and heartless things in the relationship. A death leaves you with the good memories and the heartbreak of never seeing it again. Which is worse? Depends on the mind of the person processing the feelings and their support system.


Great question…I’ve experienced both. For me…death of a loved one is worse than divorce. I am left with a feeling of emptiness that can and will never be filled by anything of earth. It’s a situation where I have no control. It is painful and, while time may ease my suffering, the void is endless. The longing to see and talk to my dad and my aunt is, at times, so strong and so difficult to bear. The loss of a loved one will never be replaced with the addition of new loved ones.

Death you can never see that person again


Death. Some divorces can be quite amicable whereas others feel like death without the closure.


I would agree with Death of a lived one. You can never speak to that person again…. And in divorce I feel like a part of you is dying. The mourning was so different for me!


I would say death experienced it way to many times. Divorce I hope I don’t experience


I believe that death of a loved one is worse than divorce. With death it feels like that person has been stolen from you far too soon. With divorce you go on without that person, but you both still go on.


When you are going through the pain of a divorce and you are the one that doesn’t want the divorce,I think the death of that loved one would almost be easier because the person didn’t leave you because they don’t love you anymore or didn’t feel that the marriage was not worth saving. Feeling betrayal and the loss of the love you thought you had with that person feels like you are dying a slow death. Then having to see that person with another person is a horrible feeling especially when you still love that person. I think starting over is more difficult because the other person goes on and if you are still morning the death of your marriage going on is very difficult. When your partner dies at least you felt love by that person and not discarded and told that you marriage was for nothing. All that you worked for is lost. When your partner dies you still have all the other parts of the relationship you had still in your heart.


I think it completely depends on the circumstances.    …sometimes divorce is a blessing. However…if you are truly in love with your partner, divorce might be more painful because there is betrayal associated with it.


Wow, what an absolutely difficult choice to make. Both death and divorce are an emotional loss, in fact some equate divorce to being a death of sorts. I have had loved ones that have passed and I have had closure, I have the memories to cherish and while there is a loss, generally in most cases you can find some peace in their death without finding anger first. You rarely dwell on the bad that person did, usually it is all the good they did in their life. In a divorce, often the closure comes in the form of anger, and you ultimately get your peace from having that anger, from thinking of all the bad the other person did, how it affected you, how it still affects you, so while you may ultimately have some form of peace in your life it may have been first based in anger and resentment. Both may carry regrets, In death thoughts of taking that person for granted, perhaps not spending as much time with that person as you could have, or in a divorce perhaps second guessing your own actions and thinking of how you affected the outcome. While divorce is not enevitable, death is. You may quote me, if you have enough room… LOL


I have been through both and the loss of my son is by far the hardest thing I have ever dealt with. I thought the divorce was the end of the world, but I got past it and moved on. i don’t think I will ever get over losing Rich.


I have to agree with her, divorce was hard but losing a child is losing a part of yourself.


For us, death would have been much easier and less drawn out…final, if you will. My in-laws divorce is still a sore subject and it’s been almost 9 years.


Scientifically, when children are involved Divorce is found to be worse. However. When the children are adults on their own and no longer rely on the parents or there are no children death is psychology worse


Each and every situation is different, and grieving is grieving, its all pretty horrible to go through and whether its death or divorce, both require time and a great deal of personal strength to get through. Both are full of ‘what ifs’ or ‘should haves’ which can be especially difficult.


Seen plenty of both up close. Death. No contest


Well .. Donna…this one has changed for first when my husband died at 29 yrs old..I would have said death…now 18 years later I would say divorce.. I went to a single parent group 2 yrs after Mikes death and that is .when it hit ME!! This young working , moden , pretty women looked me straight in the eyes (after I had to standup say my name..that I was a widow and that I had a 2 yr old son} and she said”I wish my husband was dead,,he cheated on me..” and right then I knew I always will love my husband ,he will always be young…and I had a bow on my gift from him…His love!


I believe death is worse, however, I have seen good friends go through divorce, you for one, and I have seen such bad things that friends went through, and all I could do was try and be supportive of, and encourge everyone to do the correct thing, and your time will come, and yours time has come.

As you can see, not everyone agreed or agrees with me. There are differing opinions and views, and there are reasons that are behind those views and opinions. It can be as simple as someone has only ever experienced one or the other, but not both, so they cannot compare.  As one comment stated, the death of a child was worse, so depending on who has died could support your view.


In my case, my divorce itself was devastating, but just as painful is having to deal with my ex on an almost daily basis. A solid, constant in-my-face reminder that he chose another life.  A solid, constant in-my-face reminder that I was not good enough. A solid, constant in-my-face reminder of what I have lost.


For now, I choose divorce, but maybe as more years pass and I heal my heart and I grow and continue to move on, my opinion will change.







Photo credit: Madeline Linahan