The warm blanket of empathy
I had a friend call me a few nights ago; she lost her husband to cancer last year and the night she called me was their wedding anniversary. She just wanted to talk, so I let her. She talked of their favorite song. She talked of special dates they went on together and the funny things that would happen. She talked of how she would break down at any given moment and has had a real difficult time continuing to work because she is grieving. She just needed to hear someone say “It’s okay. This is all a part of the grieving process….It’s all going to be okay.”
In my line of work I spit out statistics all day long of people who are caring for a loved one, especially those who continue to work and take care of a loved one. I can tell you that at any given time 21% of the workforce is dealing with a caregiving situation. I can also tell you that 62% of employee caregivers are arriving late to work, leaving early, taking a leave of absence, going from full-time to part-time all due to caring for an elderly or disabled loved one.
This is great information and has its place in what I do but what someone who is going through difficult times really wants to hear is that someone understands what we’re going through. Someone to listen to us and to tell us that it’s going to get better. Someone to be honest with us and tell us that yes, it may hurt like hell at the moment but the sun is coming up just around the bend.
Empathy – the capacity to recognize and share feelings that are being experienced by others.
This is what helps us get through the difficult times.
Maybe it’s just a hug from a friend or a note saying “I’m thinking about you and saying a little prayer.” Maybe it’s just a few words of encouragement and comfort, a cup of tea or coffee at the local coffee shop with a friend that helps us shift our focus and gives us what we need to continue our journey. To have one say “I know that what you’re going through may be painful at the moment but this too, shall pass.”
For me, it has been a very trying week. Even still, I am surrounded by those who have continued to encourage me, though they may not even know it.
I received flowers from my friend on my birthday last week and every difficult moment was soothed by seeing that beautiful spring arrangement on my counter reminding me “Spring is on the way” and “a new season was coming, just hang on”.
I talked with my Mom last night. Just hearing her voice, her words of love and encouragement, her prayers over me while I cried was like a warm blanket, a nice fire in the fireplace and a cup of hot cocoa on a cold Winters night. There were six little words that she said to me right before the end of our conversation that worked like a salve over my aching heart, “It’s all going to be alright“.
#death #grief #dying #encouragement #caregiving #caringforalovedone #difficulttimes #grieving