EMPATHY | So often when someone experiences the death of a baby or child, family and loved ones fail miserably at empathy because they try to fix what has happened. They usually do this because they either love you so much or just can’t deal with it themselves so they say things like “God needed another angel. It was probably for the best. At least, blah blah blah” They are desperate to show you a silver lining when there really isn’t one. As we know these kinds of words rarely ever help, in fact they more often than not make us feel even worse. So today you are invited to educate people on the art of empathy. We don’t need to turn this into a vent about what not to say, but rather, what to say and what they can do that will actually comfort the grieving. What does empathy look like for you?
Empathy can be as simple as saying “I’m sorry” and leaving space for me to speak or not if I want to. There will be days when I will talk openly and those where I will hide behind automatic defences of humour or deflection.
Empathy can be about not understanding what it’s like but wanting to know more. Empathy is about recognising there are no time limits, no set path of grief.
Empathy does not seek to reduce my experience or paint it in the language of a supermarket tabloid or click bait title. Empathy appreciates the huge range of complex feelings and that films and television rarely offer a realistic template of what it feels like.
Empathy realises it’s not about fixing what happened. Short of a time machine or parallel world there is no fixing this.
Empathy understands that while it is painful sometimes that pain can be a reminder of the depth of love felt for a lost child.
Empathy recognises that even if the child didn’t get to live they did have a life before their death and that death does not erase that life from time or memory.