capture your grief – day 8: empathy

EMPATHY | One thing grief taught me was the power of empathy. I learned about empathy when I was given the opposite and that really opened my eyes to the people who really did share their empathy with me. To be able to sit with someone who is really hurting and acknowledging their pain without trying to fix it is a true gift. Share your thoughts on empathy today, you just never know who may need to hear what you have to say.

The concept of empathy was huge, HUGE, in my training to be a counselor. Also huge in my own grief process, and in my grief training, especially empathy and compassion.

In the book, I Thought it was Just me (but it Isn’t) by Brene Brown, the difference between empathy and sympathy is explored.

Receiving sympathy can feel yucky. Someone feels bad for you, but does not go that step to momentarily try on what it may be like for you. They do not meet you where you are at. There is a separation, an almost looking down upon.

Receiving empathy feels affirming and joining. It’s a look in the eye, it’s letting oneself imagine for a moment what it must feel like. It’s authentic.

I have felt the yuckiness of sympathy (or if it’s not called sympathy, this whatever-it-is-that’s-not-empathy), but didn’t quite put a name to it. Seeing it differentiated in black and white helped me recall where I have experienced it in my life. And from whom.

I saw this license plate on the road recently. I wonder what their story is?

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