Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Empathy

10-05-2015, Capture Your Grief - Day 5, Empathy

Today's topic maybe the most important one that I share this month. It is the entire reason that there is a Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. While this month is a time to encourage more research into preventable causes of death, unlike say Breast Cancer Awareness we aren't trying to raise money or find a cure. When your baby is dead there isn't a cure. The entire point of this month, is to change the fact that pregnancy loss is seen as the end of a dream an unfortunate disappointment that is taboo to speak about. The truth is that it isn't just the loss of a dream of a pregnancy, it is the death of a child. What I most want from others is empathy.

Now empathy isn't the same as sympathy. People often offer sympathy. They tell me how sorry they are for me. And while that's at least a response out of love, unlike so many like you can always have another, this is part of God's plan or some thing else totally irrelevant for the situation. Yet, it doesn't help. When people say they are sorry, it doesn't fix anything, and why should they even say it, they didn't do anything wrong. Empathy is when you put yourself out there and allow yourself to really feel what someone else is going through. Now, I know not everyone is truly capable of empathy, but I do believe we should all try.

When a baby who is just learning to walk trips and skins their knee badly, we can be empathic. We remember the way it burns when you get a bad skin, we can just practically feel that throbbing pain of your pulse there. We know how even the most gentle pats and rubbing to get that gritty sand and dirty out of our skin feels. Often we kinda involuntarily gasp and feel our heart skip a beat when they fall down those concrete stairs and get hurt. We've all been there, it's easy to be empathic.

If you could only allow yourself to imagine the pain of life without one of your children. If you can realize that those dreams you have for them would still continue, but with no possibility of ever seeing them fulfilled. If you could truly picture that for yourself, then you could be empathic for the situation that many of us find ourselves in. I won't lie to you. I only knew of 3 people before Abigail that had lost a child, and I wasn't truly empathic. I mean how many of us truly want to be, how deeply do we really want to think about the possibility of losing a child and what that would really mean. As humans we push the unwanted ideas out of our mind, we refuse to dwell on them, as if that can prevent them from happening.

The truth is that the most comforting thing in this whole experience have been those who start out by saying one of two things. "I can't imagine, but we love you and hurt with you." or "I don't know what to do or say, but we are praying for all of you." Then because they honestly feel with us they follow it up with action. I believe the Bible has something to say about the need to follow up faith with works (James 1:22-24, 2:14-18). I have to go and do some how cleaning or I could spend all day telling you the many things that people have done for us to show their love. To hear her name spoken aloud, to have someone reach out with a hug or to squeeze my hand, to have all the money that was given for her burial and medical bills, to just show up and help clean house, to take care of things so I don't have to try to figure it out, to not ask me how I am, but a specific question and let me talk. And on and on and on.

The truth of the matter is that everyone in this world probably is in need of some empathy, and it's something everyone should cultivate in our lives. It's just something that we find ourselves in great need of in this journey since so many people don't understand that regardless of the child's age or the circumstances of their death, it is still the death of a unique individual and the loss hurts too much for words.
Sometimes all you need is a friend holding your hand
while you talk. Mine and a friend's kids, 10-05.

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