The invention of social media has brought together individuals walking similar roads. It has highlighted miraculous stories, given a voice to the voiceless, and highlighted extreme injustice. But it has also created a hierarchy of hurt.

We have supported mothers of infertility while quieting the tears of mothers of miscarriage. We’ve paraded the struggles of mothers with babies in the hospital while hushing their stress after discharge. We have rallied around wives who have lost their husbands while shaming wives whose partners have departed for another.

There is no hierarchy of hurt.

The examples are merely examples. Thousands of mothers of infertility have felt alone and isolated while mothers of miscarriage have been gently held by their community. It is simply an illustration.

The underlying truth prevails—we have created individual and societal hierarchies of hurt.

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Trauma and circumstances are never simply the incident themselves. Instead, they are layered in support systems (or lack thereof), past experiences, coping mechanisms (or lack thereof), and so on. When we minimize one person’s pain because it does not rise to the level of our own, we inhibit their ability to heal. It’s as if we say to them, “that sucks but at least . . .” This minimization is detrimental. Our inability to validate their sorrow says to them that pain only matters if it looks a certain way.

Hierarchies of hurt divide us instead of unite us. It causes us to defend our hurt and pain and to dwell in a place where healing cannot inhabit.

Guess what? Your hurt is valid. Your pain is real.

To the mama battling infertility, I am so sorry.

To the mama whose baby died in the womb, I am so sorry.

To the wife who buried her best friend, I am so sorry.

To the wife whose partner walked away, I am so sorry.

To the mama whose baby is in the hospital, I am so sorry.

To the mama whose child is failing in school, I am so sorry.

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To the daughter who feels like a disappointment, I am so sorry.

To the friend who feels isolated and alone, I am so sorry.

To all of my sisters who are struggling, I am sorry.

Pain is not a competition, because if it is, no one wins. Your hurt matters because your healing matters.

Originally published on the author’s blog

Brigitte Shular

Brigitte Shular is a wife to her best friend and Mama to soon-to-be two kiddos. She is an avid reader and coffee drinker.