Friday, December 27, 2013

Empathy's Gift

Cracked Grace
Holding the Hand of Those Who Mourn
The Gift of Empathy
Empathy Is When Hearts Touch

My friend’s son died two years ago today. I could say, “I know how she feels,” but I don’t know how she feels. However, I get it. I get child death, having lived through (and sort of past) the gut-searing grief she and her husband now experience. Her son came into the world in 1986, only a few months before my child left it.
But I didn’t lose her child—her son—so, no, I don’t presume to know how she feels. All I know is that she is grieving. And I know my heart aches for her because I’m aware of how that hole in the heart feels—that hole that can never be filled, two years later, five years later, twenty-seven years later.
I want to tell her that in spite of the hole that can never be filled, the time will come that the gut-searing ache she feels from this loss won’t hurt so bad. I want to tell her that the moments in which you feel you cannot breathe become fewer. I want to tell her that the moments when you want to run with no destination, only to run, from this reality, this loss, become fewer.
I want to reassure her that love doesn’t change; love remains. The loss also doesn’t change, but peace and comfort come more often as if on wings of white doves.
I pray those doves bless her with their presence today and every day.

How to Hold the Hand of Those Who Mourn: It’s often difficult to know what to say to someone who is grieving. Saying nothing creates a void that crushes. Saying the wrong thing creates more brokenness in a heart that already is beyond hurt. Don't say: "I know how you feel." You don't. Instead, say: “I love you.” “How can I help?” Acknowledge the hurt, the pain, and through examples of love, compassion, and empathy reassure those who are experiencing loss that they are loved and they are not alone.

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