In a culture where metaphors of war and of sports dominate discourse, perhaps it’s little wonder that comparison is a mainstay of catastrophe conversation.
Which hurricane or shooting was worse? Who lost more? What takes longer to overcome?
But what purpose does such comparison serve? How does “it could have been worse” make anything better?
When some variation of that phrase has been offered to me in times of duress, it’s not ever made me feel better. On top of my original pain have piled empathetic pain for those suffering even more than I, and pain of guilt, or shame, for feeling and expressing my own pain when others do indeed have it worse.
Instead of easing pain, comparison almost always exacerbates it.