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Behind the Scenes - On Compassion

A few days ago we were invited to participate in an Ask Me Anything. She Never Expected to Get Some of These Questions. Here is her account, along with one of her questions and its answer.

If you spoke with several individuals a day who just lost a loved one, do you think you become more or less sympathetic over time? Kindness, patience, and empathy, are conditions brought about by love. Love for our fellow humans who are suffering. It's in compassion that we give of ourselves to feel emphatic distress for another's suffering. How is it that we can watch the news so filled with horrible acts of inhumanity, we pause, shake our heads and move on with our day? Social media bombards us with images of abused animals, it's so gut wrenching that I suspect most of us scroll past them as quickly as possible. We can't let all that we're exposed to get to us, until that is when you're face to face or on the phone with a single person who is reaching out to you. Allowing yourself to simply feel is to me, compassion, it's our humanity.

grief, compassion, love, burial at sea

Describe a time that you went above and beyond when consoling someone.

I’m not a grief counselor, I’m just an individual with a compassionate nature. I can’t say I went above and beyond in this example because it was just something in the moment. About 3 years ago I worked with a mother who lost her 21 year old son in a car accident. My son was 21 at the time and it just pierced my heart. I put myself in her place and cried along with her. Both of us could barely speak for a few minutes until we composed ourselves. Having been through a sudden loss many years ago I know that there is a socially acceptable period of time that coworkers and friends (not close friends or family), but folks you come in contact with daily are sympathetic to your grief. With the exception of losing a child I’d say, after a few months, those “acquaintances” begin to wane in the compassion department. I think the person grieving intuitively understands this and holds back any mention of the difficulties they’re going through. Especially in the case of losing a spouse, some of the simple things like watching a favorite TV show without your partner, or the empty kitchen chair they encounter every evening. I get it and when any client is emotional when they first call, I assure them it’s OK and I let them talk. That’s really all one can do is listen until they’ve worked through the pent up sorrow, release it and carry on. Grief is very much like riding waves, it crests and troughs; it’s simply a matter of waiting a few minutes.

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