Ok, so I thought maybe what I should do is explain where I was coming from when I said that I think saying that you know exactly what someone’s going through, or that you understand what they’re going through, is a false statement.
First off, the reasoning is illogical. If there are 2 people who each have they’re dog die exactly the same day, can you say that one knows what the other is going through? At first glance it may seem that way, but it really isn’t. That dog could mean to one family that they’ve lost a member of their family, one that will be loved and missed, and they will be able to recall good times with that dog. To the other, it may be that this dog was the bond holding their family together because the dog was found at their doorstep on the first christmas after they had recently lost a newborn baby, and the dog filled the void like nothing else could.
Ok, so from here I’m sure you could say to yourself, well what if both families had the exact same affection for the dog with generally the exact same circumstances. The answer to this brings me to my second point. Each individual has different experiences than any other, and those experiences affect how they think, feel, and react to the world. So therefore two families can have the exact same affection for said dog, but each moment each person in each respective family has lived has made them into the people they are, and therefore will impact the way in which the dogs passing affects them.
And thirdly, a persons general disposition and thought process will also affect the way in which they react to the dog passing. Lets take the second example, where the dog was the family’s glue. If family one thinks that teh dog was their glue, and was an angel sent by God to help them through a difficult time, their feelings toward the dog’s passing will be entirely different than the family who thinks that God is against them and takes all that is good from them. See my point?
Not to mention any other factor that may come into play, of which I won’t mention all, because I couldn’t consider them all, but include the dogs health at the time, the ways in which each family grieves, the other difficulties surronding the dogs passing such as financial or emotional troubles, external support systems….
And keep in mind that I only used this one example as far as what the dogs meant to each respective family. If you take all of these things into account, and the countless combinations of each, how can you ever think you know exactly what someone else is going through? And even if someone tried to explain they’re thoughts and feelings, they wouldn’t even be aware of some of the other circumstances impacting their thoughts and feelings and reactions. So how could you think, ever, that you actually understand?
Just some food for thought here, but when someone is going through a situation, I think it would be very unwise for one to utter these words. Just listen, respect their wishes if they need to be alone, try to sympathise, and let them know that you care. Thats the most you can do. Otherwise you get into the dialogue of “..no, you don’t understand because…”. And why stress your friend out with having to try to expain to you exactly what they’re going through and feeling at the time? Suffice it to say you’ll never really understand. And you don’t have to…you’re not expected to.